Blizzard conditions shut down much of the northeastern United States on Monday, but the snow was not enough to cancel Yale classes.

By late evening, about 15 inches of snow had fallen on the Yale campus in a storm that began early Monday morning. The storm, which is expected to end by early this morning, is the largest in at least two years.

Yale allowed professors full discretion to decide whether to hold classes, although the University requested that “non-essential” staff be sent home at noon. University Secretary Linda Lorimer said individual supervisors were responsible for determining which employees were permitted to go home.

“Our general policy here is that the University operates as fully as possible and its staff members who cannot come to work for inclement weather can take advantage of the very liberal provisions we have for paid time off,” Lorimer said. “But we try to work as much as we can to keep the University operating for those who live here and have essential research here that needs to keep going around the clock.”

As the storm made its way up the eastern seaboard early Monday, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University and Columbia University all officially cancelled classes.

At Yale, many students woke up to an e-mail purportedly sent by provost Susan Hockfield at 7:15 a.m. announcing a cancellation of all Yale College classes. An hour and a half later, Lorimer sent an e-mail to the Yale community revealing that the first message was a hoax.

By late afternoon, many of the University’s administrative offices were indeed closed, as well as the Commons and Morse College dining halls. Lorimer said she expected University operations to be back to normal by today, although staff with particular circumstances will be permitted to request a day off from supervisors.

While many classes were cancelled, some students tried desperately to avoid trekking through the snow. After Amerigo Fabbri GRD ’03, a teaching assistant in Italian, received an e-mail from many of his students begging him to cancel class, he did. One student sent him a pithy message in return.

“The student said, ‘This is the most beautiful present in the world,'” Fabbri said.

Because of the President’s Day holiday, New Haven schools and city, state and federal offices were already closed Monday. But the snow prevented many stores throughout the state and the region from opening, and traffic was light as many New Haven streets were covered by several inches of snow.

Flights at Tweed-New Haven airport also came to a standstill, as most airline travelers throughout the Northeast were left stranded. While most Amtrak and Metro North trains continued to operate with delays, CTTRANSIT decided to end bus service in New Haven around 4 p.m.

City spokesman James Foye said New Haven was well-prepared for the snowfall. The city’s Public Works Department was preparing to clear roads Sunday night, Foye said, and by early Monday morning, over 30 snowplows were operating throughout New Haven.

“They started gathering people late last night before the snow started,” Foye said. “They really had to work ahead of schedule just to make sure they had enough people to cover everything.”

Although Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland did not declare a state of emergency, the state opened its Office of Emergency Management on the holiday and sent over 600 trucks to clear roads. While about 500 traffic incidents had been reported by the late afternoon, only 10 were “at all serious,” said Paul Gibb, a lead policy analyst at the Office of Emergency Management.

“The [Department of Transportation] feels like they’ve been able to keep up fairly well,” Gibb said. “Because of the light traffic we had today, it’s aided the snow efforts.”

–Staff reporter Gabriel Arana contributed to this report.