Relief from schoolwork came early this semester when unexpectedly warm weather forced UAA officials to close school for two days in a row last week due to poor road conditions.
UPD Chief Dale Pittman said that despite few classes in session, school was reopened on Friday, with the road conditions considerably better than the day before.
Pittman said that usually when the Anchorage School District decides to cancel school, the University follows suit, but that UAA has its own criteria for closing campus.
On Friday the Anchorage School District remained closed for the third day in a row while UAA reopened.
The terrible roads were the result of a tropical jet stream that affected Anchorage starting Tuesday night, forcing temperatures into the 40s and warming the South Central area, which turned the roads into ice rinks.
At 4:45 a.m. Wednesday morning, Pittman said he talked with Chris Turletes, associate vice chancellor of facilities and campus services. Both drove around Anchorage streets to determine whether they were safe. Turletes, who lives near the Bayshore subdivision, said that although the road had been scraped the weather had created conditions for black ice.
Both agreed that the streets were unsafe for driving. The campus response team was notified and a recommendation was made to Chancellor Fran Ulmer that UAA be closed. Ulmer confirmed, and e-mails were sent to students notifying them of the campus closure.
Despite main roads in Anchorage being mostly clear on Thursday, much of UAA’s perimeter roads and parking lots were still hazardous.
Pittman said the cooling and warming had caused a layer of water on top of ice, and despite UAA maintenance working to sand and clear UAA property, the water had prevented the sand from sticking, causing extremely hazardous conditions.
Pittman said that only four accidents had been reported by Thursday afternoon, two of which where collisions. Three of the accidents fell under Anchorage Police jurisdiction, but UPD handled the calls due to the increase in other calls around the city.
Several buildings around campus had trouble with drainage, said Turletes, which resulted in burst pipes and minor flooding, but no major structural damage had been reported by Saturday. Turletes complemented the maintenance staff for reacting quickly.
The dorms also had weather-based issues, according to resident advisor Brittany Richards.
“Everyone was kind of shuffling around,” West Hall R.A. Richards said.
Housing made sure that all dorm front desks were staffed all day, instead of just at night. To entertain the dorm-bound students, the housing staff showed movies and supplied food.
The record-breaking warm weather came just days after the South Central region spent two weeks in below zero temperatures. The jet streams changed
from an arctic jet stream to a tropical jet stream coming from Hawaii, National Weather Service Meteorologist Christian Cassell said.
The stream brought both moisture and unusually warm temperatures, both of which were aided by South-Central’s Chinook winds.
While Alaska has seen almost record high temperatures, the rest of the U.S. has dealt with almost record cold temperatures, Cassell said.
A North Carolina native, Cassell said that the high in Raleigh was 25 degrees on Friday, which was nowhere near the average 40 degrees Raleigh experiences this time of year.
Cassell said that this is due to a jet stream that is pushing the North’s cold weather down into the South. Everything to the west of the jet stream is warm while everything to the east is experiencing a cold snap.
“They’re in a trough right now and they’re locked in,” Cassell said.
Cassell said the highs in Anchorage are expected to drop into the 20s later in the week with snow expected.