Snow, ice make roads dangerous

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Winter storms went through Tuscaloosa Sunday and Monday leaving roads covered in ice and the campus blanketed with snow. /CW|Megan Smith

Jennie Kushner

Just nine days into the new year, an intense weather system took the Southeast by storm.

Some parts of the South have seen upward of eight inches of snow and ice, and travel to Tuscaloosa has been hindered for many students.

Westbound lanes of highway I-20 out of Atlanta were closed Tuesday morning, making travel to Tuscaloosa almost impossible.

“My travel plans were originally to travel back Monday morning, but because of the accumulation of snow in my area I cannot leave,” said Desiree Dodd, a sophomore majoring in political science. “The snow has still not melted and is not predicted to melt until closer to the weekend.”

Dodd, a Florence native, said she would like to make it to her first day of classes, but safe travels are her priority.

“I would like to make it to my first day of classes, but if doing so endangers me, then I will wait it out,” Dodd said.

Atlanta natives are dodging highways trying to make classes promptly.

Edward Bailey, a senior majoring in engineering, risked his safety just to make it to class.

“I am risking going back to school because I am scared to miss class because I only get two excused absences for the semester,” Bailey said. “I am worried because the weather isn’t going to get any better and if I don’t go back [Tuesday] I won’t be able to go back until Friday, thus I would miss three days of classes.”

Bailey said he e-mailed his teacher alerting her of the dangerous weather conditions. Bailey said his teacher was understanding but said an absence is an absence.

“This week’s inclement weather continues to cause travel delays, and the University understands that some students may not be able to return to campus in time to start classes on Wednesday, Jan. 12,” Deborah Lane, assistant vice president for University Relations, said in a statement. “Students whose return to campus will be delayed by inclement weather should immediately notify their professors via myBama.”

Kate Henderson, a senior majoring in advertising, is also stuck in Atlanta, but said she is hoping to travel to Tuscaloosa safety.

“I’m hoping to drive back Tuesday afternoon when it is supposed to get warmer and melt the ice, but if not, then I’m fearful I will be stuck in Atlanta until Friday when the temperatures are supposed to get into the 40s,” Henderson said.

Students said the University should not cancel classes due to weather implications, but should be understanding of those whose travel plans have been altered.

“The University and professors should be accommodating to students without penalizing them for weather related absences,” Bailey said. “There is nothing that students can do about the weather.”

Dodd also said professors should be understanding.

“The University and the professors should also excuse any absences due to the weather and not count them towards our number of allowed semester absences,” she said.

Lane said the University plans to work with students who are arriving late and still need to register for classes.

“Academic advisers will be available to work with students who are late arriving on campus to ensure that they can register for classes if they have not already done so,” Lane said. “Faculty members will work with students whose attendance in class is delayed by weather, so they can make up required work. As always, the safety of our students is the University’s highest priority; students should return to campus when they can do so safely.”

Those already in Tuscaloosa feel the University should think outside of the box.

“It’s a tough situation because the ice near campus in Tuscaloosa was relatively mild, but surrounding areas got hit pretty hard,” said Darren Neels, a graduate student studying sports pedagogy.

“It makes it really tough on students who are commuting or traveling back to school from those areas,” Neels said.

Tori Sheehan, a junior majoring in journalism, said she felt stressed when making flight reservations.

“I felt like I was helpless because on Sunday night heavy winter storms rocked both the Denver metro area and Birmingham,” she said.

“I called Southwest, and they said even though no flights were cancelled, there was still a good chance I would be stranded in one of my layovers,” Sheehan said.

According to the most recent predications by the National Weather Service, conditions will not be safe for travel until later this week.

There is another weather system that could drop temperatures to below freezing, prolonging the dangerous conditions.