UPDATE: University classes will be canceled all day


Public relations and sociology senior Mina Ghobrial scrapes ice off his windshield with a TopGolf membership card while running his car Tuesday afternoon. Faculty and students saw its second day of canceled classes because of weather and road conditions.  

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

Update (1:02 p.m.): University officials have issued an apology for inconveniences posed by the multiple weather-related delay announcements in a statement on the University's Tumblr page.

"We're very sorry for any trouble, inconvenience or problems that our students and employees faced related to our decisions," the statement read. "We are always working to improve our processes and to learn from each incident. Clearly, that includes today's episode."

The Texas Union and Student Activities Center have closed, while CapMetro suspended its UT shuttle routes after 1 p.m.

Update (11:26 a.m.): Citing ongoing, dangerous road conditions, University officials have announced classes will be cancelled all of Tuesday. Individual buildings will remain open for those already on campus, and Capital Metro shuttles will continue to operate.

Originally, worsening weather conditions caused officials to delay opening campus until noon  — which was also a reversal of their earlier decision to observe normal hours.

University spokesman Gary Susswein said the University's multiple closure decisions have all been based on continuously updated weather forecasts.

"The motivating factor here is the safety of our students, safety of our employees, safety of our professors," Susswein said. "When the initial decision was made [to keep the University open], that was based on the best information we had at the time, including discussions with multiple meteorologists."

Earlier Tuesday morning, Susswein said UT officials spoke with local government agencies and meteorologists at 3 a.m., as per University policy.

“The forecast did not anticipate these sorts of weather conditions,” Susswein said. “Obviously we knew it was going to be cold, but at that time the best information we had was that rush hour would be clear.”

Approximately 30 roads have been closed, according to Austin Police Cpl. David Boyd.

Boyd said temperatures are expected to warm up starting at around 11 a.m., which should speed up the process of clearing roadways.

“The city has crews out working as hard as they can, but there are so many roads it’s hard to get to them all, and keep them all open,” Boyd said. “We just don’t have the equipment to handle that many roads that fast.”

Boyd said current conditions are comparable to Thursday evening’s ice storm, but there are more people are out on the roads today than there were Thursday.

“The ice really didn’t start falling until the time when people started going to work this morning,” Boyd said. “So people didn’t know what was going to be coming down on the roads today until they actually got out there.”

Corporate communications senior Tony Vidaud, who lives off-campus, had already walked to campus when he found out the decision to hold classes had been reversed.

“I checked at 3:00 this morning, and they said it was open,” Vidaud said. “When I got here, I didn’t see anyone on campus, so I checked my email, and that’s when I saw we had closed.”

Vidaud said he would have preferred to know about the cancellation earlier.

“I could’ve checked again when I woke up this morning, but they sent an email at 3 [a.m.] saying we had class,” Vidaud said. “I wish I’d have known so I wouldn’t have to walk here. But it is what it is.”

Economics sophomore Kristina Morton, who lives on campus, went to a full-length Chinese class and had already returned to her dormitory before she found out the class had technically been cancelled.

“I didn’t find out until class was over,” Morton said. “I wasn’t checking my phone during class.”

Though the University confirmed it would remain open in an email sent at 4:20 a.m., and reversed the decision at 8:24 a.m., Austin Independent School District announced a delayed start at 9:17 p.m. Monday night. AISD representatives, who often work with the University when making inclement-weather-related decisions, announced a two-hour delay for all AISD schools and bus lines. All AISD classes were cancelled at 8:31 a.m.

In their 4:20 a.m. email, University communications officers asked supervisors to work with employees who have children enrolled in AISD schools.

UT dining hall facilities are all open. Capital Metro announced that buses will be operating at regular levels, but operators were instructed to slow down, avoid overpasses and exercise extra caution.

Tuesday also marks the day of the runoff elections for House District 50 between Democrat Celia Israel and Republican Mike VanDeWalle. Individuals involved with the campaigns said the weather will affet voter turnout, which could have an impact on the outcome of the election.

Akira Conley, an international relations and global studies junior who lives off campus, said she was frustrated by the lack of infrastructure and information.

"I drove right around Rio Grande around 7:00, and I walked to class at 7:45," Conley said. "It kind of sucked — they hadn't put any sand or salt down to get rid of the ice. People were literally crawling down 24th street. My friend fell."

Conley said her government class was not cut short when the University announced closures.

"We sat through the entire class, because the professors weren't informed about what was going on," she said.

Conley said the proximity of West Campus meant she felt safe driving, but she would not have felt safe travelling from other student-filled neighborhoods. 

"I wouldn't have come if I had to drive up Dean Keeton," Conley said. "That would've been a no."