The worst ice storm in 10 years was headed directly toward Oklahoma Christian University and the Oklahoma City area on Jan. 13, USA Today reported, until all of a sudden, the storm completely missed the metropolitan.
In preparation for the storm, Edmond and Oklahoma City Public Schools, along with other universities canceled their Friday classes, and meteorologists warned to stay off the roads.
Oklahoma Christian, however, carried on with classes despite the weather warnings. The inch of ice and freezing rain expected to hit Oklahoma City was nothing more than an inch of rain.
As part of his job, Oklahoma Christian Vice President Neil Arter monitors the weather and determines when and if Oklahoma Christian will be in session.
“To cancel school we look to see if we can move safely around campus, and then even beyond that we need to look at the faculty and staff to see if they can make it here safely,” Arter said.
Arter said he takes many different scenarios into consideration in his routine of checking the weather.
“I set my alarm for four in the morning, I go to my living room and get my computer, iPad, and T.V. going so I can monitor the weather,” Arter said.
Arter said he not only wakes up at four in the morning to check the weather, but he must also stay ahead of the game until he makes a call. Arter said he made the mistake of following his gut a few years ago by believing a storm was approaching Oklahoma Christian. However, the storm stopped before reaching campus after Arter had cancelled classes.
“A few years ago, I got up and was watching the weather at about six o’clock, there was a storm just west of the Oklahoma City area, Arter said. “I called the people I had to call, and we believed Edmond would be in bad shape. It looked so much like this big blizzard was about to come through, so we canceled school. Right after we canceled school, I sat back down in my chair to continue monitoring the weather, and the ice storm stopped.”
Arter said making the call to cancel school causes stress since weather in Oklahoma is very unpredictable. He said he must handle the role and make the calls, even if they seem ridiculous at the time.
“When people start commenting or saying things to me, I don’t take it personal,” Arter said. “I know that they are anxious, and I understand that. It is just something about a snow day that makes us all a little jumpy.”
Bill Luttrell, chair of the Department of Chemistry & Physics, at Oklahoma Christian said there are ways Arter and students can predict the weather and be weather prepared.
“In the present time we can look at your computer or phone,” Luttrell said. “You can look to see the radar to stay alert. We are fortunate to have an abundance of resources at our hands.”
Luttrell said the storm came close to hitting campus and weathermen were very close when predicting the location of the storm.
“We had cold coming in from the north and other stuff from the west and south and it looked like it was going to meet somewhere, but the temperature really is the determining factor of whether it will be ice or rain or sleet,” Luttrell said. “The weathermen were only off by 25 miles, which isn’t really much in the grand scheme of things.”