The Johns Hopkins Gazette: December 9, 2002
December 9, 2002
VOL. 32, NO. 14


Save This for a Snowy Day

By Dennis O'Shea
Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

If last week's snowstorm--which dumped about seven inches of snow in the region and caused a rare closing of the university--caught you unprepared, here's a suggestion for next time: Cut out this story and tape it to the headboard of your bed. You can use it to find out if you can roll over and go back to sleep.

Here's the part you'll need the most: 410-516-7781 or, from areas where Baltimore is a long-distance call, 800-548-9004.

Those are the phone numbers to call when it's snowing. They're connected to the weather emergency hot line, which the university uses to announce whether bad weather has forced the university to close, open late or cancel any classes.

Chances are that, on any given snowy day, calling the hot line will just confirm that the university is open on a normal schedule. Johns Hopkins policy is to remain open whenever possible, both because so many employees and students are involved in patient care and because minimizing interruption of teaching and research is a priority.

Even on those rare occasions when there is a closure, outpatient clinical services usually remain open. Required attendance employees in nonclinical departments of the university also have to get to work (check with your supervisor if you are not sure whether you are a required attendance employee).

Many students, faculty and staff are accustomed, on snowy days, to listening to the radio or watching television for information on the university's status. Here's why calling the weather emergency line is better:

There's no waiting. You don't have to wait for radio announcers to get through a long list of other institutions or waste minutes watching words crawl across the bottom of your TV screen.

Immediacy. As soon as the university decides what to do during a snowstorm, the weather emergency line message is recorded. That usually occurs by 6 a.m. after an overnight storm. Decisions on part-time evening classes are usually made by 1 p.m. During major storms, the line is updated frequently with new information on library hours, shuttle service, evening classes, Peabody Prep classes, etc.

Completeness and accuracy. In a weather emergency, Johns Hopkins has a lot of information to convey to students, faculty and staff all over the Baltimore-Washington area. Broadcasters have time to mention only the bare minimum, and sometimes they get even that wrong.

Information posted on the phone line is also available on the World Wide Web. From the home page at, click on "Today@JHU" and then click on the "JHU Emergency Information and Weather Alerts" link.

University policy on weather-related closings is also online, at

The sections on the Required Attendance Plan, Liberal Leave Plan and Delayed Arrival Plan explain what happens if those options are invoked by the university.

Johns Hopkins Hospital's weather emergency policy is also online, at OPS/weather.cfm.