As if they were not dreading the end of winter break enough, Mercyhurst students returning for J-Term braced for a cold front so extreme meteorologists have referred to it as “life-threatening.”
Residents of Erie County, as well as much of the US Northeast and Midwest, may already be accustomed to such drastic temperatures and know exactly how to protect themselves during these winter months. However, it is safe to say that some of Mercyhurst’s international students have received quite a culture shock.
“I’ve basically been ‘hibernating’ because I refuse to go out there, even for food,” says freshman Janelle Campbell, an Intelligence Studies major from Portmore, Jamaica. “It’s really rough, nothing close to what I’m used to.”
Over the past two days, the unusually barren campus has seen a scattering of bulky coats, hunched shoulders, and wind-burned faces, as both students and faculty members duck in and out of buildings to avoid the frigid climate. Despite the severity of these conditions, it seems that many students have a handle on how to deal with them.
“I don’t live too far from here, so I’m fairly used to this kind of weather,” says freshman Kayley Morrison, an Intelligence Studies major from Warren, Pa. “Still, I’m trying to stay inside as much as possible. It’s really bad out there.”
This widespread cold front is the result of a “polar vortex,” a cyclone near the North Pole accompanied by winds reaching 100 mph and a collection of cold air being consequently forced south. The subfreezing gales have also initiated power outages and record-breaking temperature values across not only the Northeast but also much of the Midwest.
Citizens of Erie and its surrounding counties are being warned by authorities to prepare for hazardous road conditions for at least the next 48 hours. The administration at Mercyhurst has taken matters into its own hands by taking various preventative measures. Multiple classes have been cancelled, and the library has been closed completely, as people find it increasingly more difficult to venture outdoors.
Temperatures are expected to continue sliding over the next few days, but there is hope yet. Students can anticipate values as high as 42°F this upcoming weekend, although there is still a high probability of snow and ice. Until then, people gearing up to face the cold over the next few days should take all necessary precautions. Bundle up, watch out for ice, and drink plenty of hot chocolate.