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Need to know: Winter weather operations and communications

November 30, 2021
Snow-covered River Campus and Genesee River with blue skies and white clouds overhead.The Genesee River and the River Campus during winter. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

Emergency preparedness teams are ready to keep the University operational and community members informed this winter.

Wintery weather is upon us in New York state and the University of Rochester’s emergency preparedness teams are ready with the plans and tools that keep the University operational and community members informed during snowstorms or severe weather.

When thinking about a possible “snow day,” it’s important to know that only under extreme weather conditions do University officials consider reducing or delaying on-campus operations and canceling activities, provided that essential services can still be maintained. The University is equipped to deal with snow and ice and, in general, remains in operation and continues with regular activities, classes, and services.

Here are key points to remember about staying informed during winter in Rochester:

  • However infrequent, the decision to cancel classes and not open campus offices and departments will normally be made by 5:30 a.m. on the day of the potentially severe weather. University experts analyze winter forecasts and conditions overnight and throughout the day, looking at the severity of current conditions and predictions; expected duration of a storm; road conditions, both on campus and in the region; and how quickly snow can be cleared from University sidewalks and parking lots.
  • When a change to University operations is necessary due to the weather, AlertUR, the University’s official emergency notification system, is used to make the first notice. AlertUR sends urgent messages via text, phone call, and email. To receive AlertUR messages, University community members must keep their AlertUR phone and email settings current. Students, faculty, and staff can use their NetID to update their settings online at any time.
  • All essential University staff members are still expected to report to work unless otherwise notified by a supervisor. Employees should confirm with their supervisor whether their status is essential or non-essential. All Medical Center employees—whether at Elmwood Avenue or any off-site location—are considered essential staff and are required to report even during severe weather, unless notified otherwise. If you are an employee who currently works remotely, you should continue to do so during a “snow day” unless otherwise instructed by your manager.
  • University Facilities works around the clock to ensure that the University is accessible and safe in the event of a big snow event. However, if an individual feels it’s unsafe to travel to campus, they should notify their professors or supervisor to work out the necessary arrangements for their absence or delay.
  • The Office of University Communications is responsible for delivering announcements to students, faculty, and staff as soon as a change to regular University operations is known. In addition to AlertUR, official weather news channels include:
    • University email
    • University homepage:
    • Twitter: @UofR
    • Local TV and radio news stations
    • University Information Line: (585) 275-6111
    • URMobile: the University’s official mobile app (download it for free or by searching “URMobile” in your phone’s app store. To allow push notifications through the URMobile app, in the app go to About/Preferences and then Notification Settings.)
    • Blackboard: Students should check Blackboard for individual class cancellations as determined by an instructor

Learn more about how University Facilities and Services tackles campus snow removal.

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