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Science and the Environment
A monthly conversation with Missouri State University President Clif Smart.

MSU's Smart on Snow Exodus, Upcoming Severe Weather Season

Scott Harvey
Warning siren at 1538 S. Holland Ave, one of dozens in Springfield/Credit: Scott Harvey

With severe weather season on the horizon, education administrators are among the officials analyzing current procedures ahead of any potential storms.

At Missouri State University, those who sign up for the school’s notification system will be alerted of, among other things, inclement weather which could affect university operations. The practice is not uncommon these days, with smartphones offering immediate and advanced notifications.

Earlier this month, Missouri conducted its annual statewide severe weather exercise, which included sounding tornado sirens and served as a reminder for citizens to have a plan for how to respond to severe weather.

Perhaps just as dangerous is ice. Accumulation of more than an inch in February prompted officials in the Ozarks to cancel classes and close businesses for a couple days.

Clif Smart, MSU president, recalls the January 2007 ice storm, as so many southwest Missourians do. But its impact on campus life was not as destructive as it could have been.

“That came during the first week of classes for the January semester and so that was an easy one really,” Smart said. “Dr. Nietzel [Former MSU President] essentially closed classes for a week and we just delayed opening and everything bumped back a week.” 

But there are storms that can really affect the academic calendar, such as the December 2000 ice storm, Smart says.

“We had a big ice, snow storm during the final two days of exams and graduation. And so ultimately two days of exams had to be rescheduled later on and we did not hold graduation that year. So it can be pretty disruptive.”

Smart adds that university officials don’t want students to miss multiple class days and are “pretty aggressive about holding classes,” so it has to be “a significant event” in order for MSU to close.