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ISSUE 120 VOL 8 PUBLISHED 11/17/2006

Winter weather arrives

By Alyssa Kleven
Contributing Writer

Friday, November 17, 2006

As the days get shorter and the nights get longer, cold weather will soon be rearing its ugly head on campus and across the country. However, there are many ways in which St. Olaf staff and students prepare for the upcoming winter months.

Facilities, which is responsible for shoveling and de-icing sidewalks, does not hire more people to keep up with the snow season. "Hours may change for some people," said Pete Sandberg, Assistant Vice President of Facilities. "[And] others have to do some overtime when necessary because of snow removal."

Facilities also take up tasks like securing campus buildings and thermostats for the winter.

"We do some work on the larger air-handling units to winterize them, but not too much else," Sandberg said.

St. Olaf's first winter with the turbine will affect the school's energy supply.

Since campus will be using more energy in the winter, the wind turbine is actually most productive during those months.

“On average, about 48 percent of all the BTUs we consume are used in December, January, February and March," Sandberg said. However, winter evenings are campus's lowest electric demand time, so the excess generating capacity will be sold to Xcel Energy.

Students should also be taking precautions during the winter to protect themselves and what they own.

For students with cars on campus, winterization should take place. A car that has been sitting in J-Lot will get a rude awakening when it’s started for the first time after a few cold nights if it hasn’t gotten the proper antifreeze treatment.

Some vehicles come with plugs that allow for block heaters, which help some vehicles start easier during cold mornings.

These vehicles include St. Olaf vans, which park in the parking lot between the theater building and Mellby Hall, where block heaters are available.

Classes have only been canceled once in Dean Greg Kneser’s career at St. Olaf. The first year of Mark Edwards’s presidency, students woke up to 18 inches of wet snowfall. Professors and staff could barely walk up the hill, including Kneser, who had to make the phone call to front desks of residence halls to alert students that there would be no classes that day.

“In every residence hall a cheer went up," Kneser recalled.

A wet snow fall can prove to be particularly dangerous for mobility, and safety precautions should be taken regarding the severe weather.

On the level of personal safety in winter months, Kneser also warned against drinking in the cold weather.

"[Alcohol] can complicate bad choices," he said.

When students feel warm and then decide to walk somewhere not dressed appropriately for the weather, they can put themselves at risk for hypothermia, although they wouldn’t feel the onset of symptoms right away.

"If you’re not from around here, have a good coat, hat and something on your hands," Kneser said.

Personal safety during the winter as well as the work of staff in facilities will make winter safe as we see the onset of snow and negative wind-chill in our near future.

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