From snow storms to flooding, 2019 has already been packed with extreme weather patterns, as well as tough challenges for the Facilities Management team to conquer as a consequence of these conditions.
The first situation that Gustavus facilities employees had to deal with was the amount of snow that multiple winter storms brought onto campus.
This caused issues with parking zones, as well as other issues such as the removal of the mountainous snow piles.
“The amount of snow generated several challenges, but I would say the removal of the snow in general was the toughest. It was difficult for students to get their vehicles out of parking stalls, difficult for Landscaping Services to keep up with removal and difficult for Campus Safety officers to enforce parking regulations in a consistent manner,” Director of Campus Safety, Carol Brewer, said.
Campus Safety is just one department that is influential in the decision-making process regarding weather conditions and actions after extreme cases.
“A Campus Safety representative is one person on a team of Campus Officials that makes decisions around weather challenges. There are several people that participate in making decisions about what activities can or cannot continue during various weather situations,” Brewer said.
Another influential department would include Landscaping Services.
The Physical Plant team is consisted of dedicated employees who endure brutal weather in order to keep the Gustavus campus running smoothly, efficiently, and, most importantly, safely.
“Several mornings started at four a.m. to work on snow removal and most of that work continued throughout the day,” Director of the Physical Plant, Travis Jordan, said.
Jordan went on to talk about the brutally cold weather as another factor for the odd winter that the Saint Peter area experienced.
“This season has been difficult with extreme cold temperatures…The polar vortex [made it]…challenging [to keep] everyone warm [and] safe and [to keep] equipment operational. The Facilities Team did a great job working in very tough [and] difficult situations,” Jordan said.
Other departments have also felt that this winter has differed from others, especially with the extreme temperatures, vast amount of snow and the fact that that snow has to go somewhere when it melts, causing problematic flooding.
“I definitely feel this year was different. We had the snowiest February ever and since it was condensed to such a short period of time, it was difficult to recover from one storm in time for the next one to begin. It created challenging conditions that most college-aged students had really never experienced before,” Brewer said.
“This was a historical year of snow and cold, some of which we haven’t seen since the late 80’s to early 90’s…it seemed like we just couldn’t get a break from the storms,” Jordan said.
There was so much snow in the removal process that the college had to hire more help in order to maintain safe access to some buildings as well as remove the snow in general.
“At times we were hauling snow two to three days a week just to prepare for another snow storm that would take place over the weekend. Snow load became an issue [for the] Lund Center and we had to hire out the labor to remove nine to ten feet of snow off areas of the roof and skylights,” Jordan said.
The teams are grateful for the collaborative effort that was required to tackle this winter season.
“Thanks to all who helped this season, it was truly a campus/team effort,” Jordan said.
Students have also been impacted by this extreme winter weather season and the shifting between above freezing temperatures and negative wind chills.
“I get worried when there is a lot of snow melting and then a sudden shift to colder temperatures because it is dangerous for my friends and other students to be out on the roads when the ice isn’t as obviously visible on the streets,” Sophomore Tyra Ericson said.
The melting of the snow also allows for more clarity in terms of parking areas and restrictions for the upcoming spring break.
“Now that we are experiencing melting, I encourage students to double check where their vehicles are parked. Most parking lots have signs designating the end of the parking row, but not all. For those that might be parked in the driving lane because the stall lines were not visible will now be ticketed. Moving these vehicles will be important. I also encourage students to pay attention to upcoming parking instructions for spring break,” Brewer said.