Frigid weather causes minor damages to Yale

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Photo by Mason Kroll.

Despite the severe weather that gripped New Haven for several weeks over winter break, newly returned students will likely not see many weather-related issues in the near future.

The so-called “polar vortex” — a large-scale cold blast that propelled cold air up from the North Pole down to the U.S. in early January — sent parts of New England and Midwest into the negative temperatures. Winter weather temperatures in New Haven reached a near-record low last week, damaging sprinkler heads, pipes and fire systems in several Yale-operated buildings.

The Yale Emergency Operations Team responded immediately to maintenance issues and worked to restore the damages done, according to Director of Emergency Management Maria Bouffard. All facilities and buildings were operating smoothly by the time students returned from break.

“There were a number of breaks in pipes in plumbing, heating and cooling and fire systems due to the cold weather,” said University Spokesman Tom Conroy. “They were repaired as they occurred and none caused significant damage.”

According to recent weather reports, New Haven’s mean temperature of 43 degrees on Monday, Jan. 6 plummeted down to a low of only nine degrees on Tuesday, Jan. 7 as the cold air front moved through the region. Even before the polar vortex hit, other adverse weather conditions were brewing. In an email to the Yale community on Jan. 2, Vice President of Human Resources and Administration Mike Peel warned of a winter storm and noted that the University was prepared in the event of power outages and other impacts due to the weather.

Peel also encouraged University employees who were concerned about commuting to work to stay home and consult their supervisors. Bouffard said that some members of the Yale community were also forced to relocate on campus over break, due to the weather. After the polar vortex on Jan. 6 and Jan. 7, Yale staff members in 10 damaged buildings had to be moved temporarily due to the minor flooding caused by breaks in water pipes.

“The interruptions were minimal, although it was certainly an inconvenience,” said Bouffard. “The Fire Marshal’s Office, Facilities, Environmental Health and Safety and Risk Management responded immediately.”

Bouffard added that the University is highly prepared for severe winter weather while students are on campus. The Yale Emergency Operations Team meets on a monthly basis to work on plans to respond to emergencies and is constantly exploring ways to improve and keep the Yale community safe, she added.

As students returned to campus from the break, the severity of the weather was well behind them. Although some students encountered chilly suites, most were positive about the temperatures.

“I wasn’t expecting it to be as cold as it was,” said Agnes Galej ’17. “[But it] wasn’t too bad.”

Residential college dorms reopened on Wednesday, Jan. 8.

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