Penn State University Park weather FAQ

November 24, 2015

University Park, Pa. -- In past years, weather events caused delays in the start of activities and classes, or the cancellation of classes, on the University Park campus. Those events spark questions among faculty, staff and students, so Penn State News has posted answers to the most frequently asked weather-related questions.

Q. If the campus is open, am I required to come to class?
It is your decision on whether or not you are comfortable commuting to campus. If you do not make it to class, it is important for you to contact your professor as soon as possible to let him or her know why you were not in attendance. Ultimately, it is up to each professor to determine how he or she will handle these types of absences, but we believe they will be reasonable and understanding.

Q. Why isn’t the campus closed on some days when the news is reporting hazardous road conditions?
We view and listen to the weather and traffic reports and consult with Pennsylvania State Police, but we also depend on first-hand reports of road conditions received through our campus maintenance and police personnel to determine whether or not they are passable. The University Park campus never really closes. We have nearly 14,000 students on campus who require meals and warm lodging. University Police and other emergency services remain operational around the clock regardless of the weather. In addition, there are critical research projects that require constant attention, as well as livestock that must be fed, watered and sheltered. Guest services at both The Nittany Lion Inn and The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel also remain open regardless of the weather.

Q. Why aren’t the sidewalks always clear?
If the snow is occurring during the day it is sometimes impossible to keep up with clearing the sidewalks. The maintenance crew, which begins preparation and work well in advance of a storm, will continue to make multiple passes to keep them as clear as possible. At times, the temperatures are low enough that salt will not melt the snow and ice so it is important that everyone is careful when walking across the campus. As temperatures warm and/or the sun comes out, the salt is able to melt the snow and ice.

Q. If the start of classes is delayed, how do I know which class to attend?
If Penn State University Park announces a delayed start to the day, a time for when classes and activities begin will be given. For example, if there is a two-hour delay announced, classes and activities beginning at or after 10 a.m. will be held as normal.  Classes prior to the designated time are canceled.

Inclement weather is likely any time now through March. When it does strike, the Penn State community should check WPSU-FM and Penn State News -- the official sources for weather-related delay or cancellation advisories at Penn State's University Park campus. In addition, advisories will be sent by email and text message to students, faculty and staff via PSUAlert. Students, faculty and staff can add contact information, such as a cell phone number or secondary email address, to their PSUAlert account at

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(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 24, 2015