Weekend blizzard disrupts campus

A snow storm which walloped the Northeast this weekend, dropping a foot of snow in New Haven, hindered normal activities in the city and on campus but caused few major problems.

During the storm, the Ezra Stiles and Morse college dining halls flooded, some sports games were cancelled, teams struggled to return to campus from away games, and attendance at the weekend’s first annual Winter Arts Festival suffered. The weekend’s weather dumped about 12 inches of snow in New Haven on Saturday and in the early morning hours Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

City officials banned parking on New Haven streets to make way for more than 35 snowplows while Metro-North train service was cut in half and flights to Bradley International Airport outside of Hartford were canceled, city spokesman Derek Slap said.

A burst pipe late Saturday night in the kitchen of the Stiles dining hall flooded the Stiles and Morse dining halls and the common room in Stiles with one to two inches of water, Stiles Master Stuart Schwartz said. Fire and emergency maintenance workers responded to the flooding, he said, but have not uncovered a root cause of the accident. The rooms will likely need renovations regardless of the cause, he said.

“It could have been normal wear and tear in the buildings, or they could’ve froze, but we may have to have the floor of the dining hall redone now,” Schwartz said. “There’s a lot of water in there, and those boards could buckle.”

Custodial Services Director Robert Young said the freezing temperatures likely caused the pipe to burst, but he said he would wait for further investigation before jumping to conclusions.

Morse Master Frank Keil said he was particularly impressed with the cleanup work of the physical plant and dining hall workers, who arrived early Sunday morning to clean the kitchens and restart the gas that powers many of the ovens and burners in time for brunch.

“They did a great job,” Keil said. “I think they deserve praise.”

Other residential colleges have dealt with burst pipes in the past week, including Timothy Dwight and Silliman colleges on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively. Silliman Master Judith Krauss said the water had done minimal damage, since the burst pipe in Silliman only flooded basement space in a residential entryway.

In addition to maintenance concerns, the snow made travel difficult for the University’s athletic teams. The men’s basketball and fencing teams had their matches postponed, and the men’s track team was forced to stay overnight in Springfield, Mass., Saturday night when they could not make it all the way to New Haven in the storm from Hanover, N.H., where they were at a Dartmouth meet.

“It kind of sucked having to be in Springfield overnight, and be away from our beds for two nights in a row,” Jihad Beauchman ’06, who competed in the high jump and triple jump, said. “But it was fun. The track team entertained ourselves.”

The storm also resulted in lower turnout than expected at some events, including the Yale Student Activities Committee’s Winter Arts Festival. Although a Saturday art exhibit was canceled due to the closing of the Yale University Art Gallery and a Sunday film festival was delayed due to weather concerns, festival chair Orly Friedman ’07 said some events, like the fashion show held in the Silliman Common Room, were quite successful despite the weather.

Outside of Yale, the snowstorm cost the city of New Haven roughly 10 percent of the $417,000 budgeted for the year’s overtime and extra materials costs, but there was “virtually no damage” and “very few” accidents over the weekend, Slap said, crediting the city’s parking ban.

“Most people really heeded the warning,” Slap said. “The first focus was to keep all the main arteries open, and now they’re starting to go on the secondary and tertiary roads — generally, things have been remarkably smooth.”

Aside from the cold, University administrators said they anticipate no problems for the coming week.

“As far as I know at this stage, all is on course for a normal day tomorrow,” Provost Andrew Hamilton said Sunday. “Although it was a very severe storm, Yale has been through many worse in its 300 years. After all, isn’t this what we love about New England, variety?”

Yale College Dean Peter Salovey attended a psychology conference in New Orleans this weekend and his flight home early Sunday morning was cancelled. Salovey got a seat on a later flight and eventually made it back to New Haven.

“It wasn’t the storm of the century,” Salovey said.

Two Yalies surrender to the snow in the Berkeley College courtyard after braving the blizzard to secure beer. The wintry weather blanketed the city with a foot of snow.
Kari Rittenbach
Two Yalies surrender to the snow in the Berkeley College courtyard after braving the blizzard to secure beer. The wintry weather blanketed the city with a foot of snow.

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