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Winter weather notifications: Everything you need to know

November 8, 2019
snow on the quad with the library in the background.Eastman Quadrangle in winter. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

Winter is almost upon us here in Rochester and the University’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.

The University is very good at dealing with snow and in general remains in operation and continues with regular activities, classes and services despite excessive accumulation or a winter storm. We have experts who analyze winter forecasts and conditions in order to keep everything running well and keep people safe. They are 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.

Under extreme weather conditions, however, University officials may decide to reduce or delay its operations and cancel activities, provided that essential services will be maintained.

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

  • 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. In these cases, AlertUR, the University’s official emergency notification system, is the first notice of any University-wide status changes. AlertUR sends urgent messages via text, phone call and email.
  • All essential University staff members are still expected to report to work unless otherwise notified by a supervisor—employees are encouraged to work with their supervisor to understand their essential or non-essential status. 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.
  • 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 free app at, or by searching “URMobile” in your phone’s app store. To allow push notifications through the URMobile app, on the app go to About/Preferences and then Notification Settings.)
    • Blackboard: Students should check Blackboard for individual class cancellations as determined by an instructor.

Now is the time to update: 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 any time at


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Category: University News