Ask Abe: Snow Shutdown

Anida H. ’09

How many times has the UW shut down completely for snow?

Abe

Snowstorms are about as classic Madison as Bucky and Babcock. The city itself averages four-plus feet each season — which spans seven months of the year. But while the UW has ended early or started late plenty of times, and individual professors occasionally choose to cancel class, the UW has only officially shut down its entire days’ worth of operations four times. On St. Patrick’s Day in 1965, Chancellor Robben Fleming LLB’41 closed down the university for a storm that amounted to 6.9 inches. The next full closure didn’t happen until December 8, 2009, when Chancellor Biddy Martin PhD’85 sent a tweet at 7:45 p.m. the night before, announcing the snow day. (That snow day started the annual Battle for Bascom tradition.) Chancellor Martin was also responsible for the UW’s next two snow days (making her a favorite among students): February 2, 2011, when 14.3 inches fell in 48 hours; and the following year on December 20, 2012, which saw 15.2 inches in 48 hours. The 2012 snow day was historic, as Martin also cancelled all in-person finals scheduled for that day.