Students on campus knew what their future would look like when they matriculated to Cornell—challenging classes, a lot of work, and most of all, a lot of snow. In fact, most students came to Cornell with the knowledge that snow days do not exist. Cornell has no remorse for snow and the typical Ithaca climate. Gone were the days when we would get off from school just for an inch or two of snow. Snow days would just be a memory for students coming to Ithaca—or so they thought.
Historically, Cornell has only closed its campus once every two decades. The last snow day was on March 14th 1993. In fact, a snow day had never been recorded at Cornell before the 1970s. During the blizzard of ’93, snow accumulations in Ithaca totaled 30 inches and the university closed its doors for two days. The storm claimed 300 lives and many people were snowed into their homes for a day or two until some of the snow melted.
Although not as harsh, Nor’easter Stella held its wrath on Ithaca just one week ago. Snow totals were close to 18 inches and the storm continued for two days. The storm also contained a staggering windchill, which made walking outside that much more dangerous.
Cornell students were overjoyed when they found out classes were canceled for almost a day and a half. However, Cornell’s decision to have a snow day, although certainly appreciated, was surprising to both faculty and students on campus. Historically, Cornell never ever closes its doors—snow, sleet, rain or wind.
Storm Stella was not as strong as the blizzard of ’93, yet Cornell still decided to close its doors. Even crazier, the university-closing storm that comes almost once a decade decided to come on the exact date of the last blustering storm—March 14th.
Perhaps it was the significance of it all—the coincidental date lining up with the blizzard of ’93, or maybe the sheer luck of students on campus. Maybe it was the fact that it was pie day, because, after all, everyone loves pie (are we becoming MIT-esqe now?).
All in all, although it was certainly not expected, Cornell’s snow day did provide students some great time to rest and have fun in the snow. The unexpected shutdown of campus may become legend. Who knows–maybe every pie day every 23 years will be a total shutdown of campus. Only time will tell.