Get ready: The snowflakes are a’comin’

Robert Landis, Contributing Writer

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 As leaves fall and crunch under students’ feet, signaling autumn, the Pitt-Johnstown community knows winter comes soon, and so will the snow.

Richland Township gets quite a lot of snow, with a record of 125.5 inches in 2010, beating out the old record of 107.5 inches in 1993, according to articles from The Tribune-Democrat.

The average amount of snowfall in Richland Township was 46.5 inches between 1981 and 2010, according to statistics from the National Weather Service, with an increase to 114.1 inches between 2010 and 2019.

With this amount of snow, students often come face to face with harsh conditions, and are sometimes at the mercy of the Pitt-Johnstown administrative staff who determine when to cancel classes.

In an email sent out in the spring 2019 semester, Robert Knipple, Pitt-Johnstown’s Housing and Dining executive director, warned students to stay warm and cover their eyes, lest they receive permanent eye damage.

During a particularly heavy snowfall in February that left most of campus covered in a layer of ice and snow, students were forced to stay inside, or risk being injured as some Pitt students did.

With hazardous conditions came cries from students asking for classes to be canceled, which resulted in a petition being passed around demanding class cancellations with over 10,000 signatures from students, faculty and family members of the Pitt-Johnstown community.

Sophomore Julius Abia echoed the sentiments of his peers, asking for more consideration from Pitt-Johnstown.

“If we can’t safely get to class, what’s the point of even going? They should just cancel class if they know things are going to be that bad.”

Abia then rolled his eyes and crossed his arms, stating his annoyance.

“I shouldn’t be breaking limbs just to get to class.”

Pitt-Johnstown Facilities Management Director Walter Kalista did not respond for comment.

Speaking from a similar experience in the 2018-19 season, Richland Township secretary Kim Stayrook offered a look into why roads and pathways were difficult to keep salted.

“We had a shortage, but it’s something we have very little control over.

“Our storage bins are filled by a mine in Cresson contractually, and they only mine during a certain part of the year which means salt quantities are limited.”

Stayrook said that the mine also sells to areas that don’t normally get harsh winters, which cuts into their shares should a harsh winter  come to those areas.

“We can only request so much salt, and if another area needs it, they are more likely to get it.

“And if 100 other townships are fighting for salt, then things can start looking hopeless fast,” she said.

Based on statistics from the National Weather Service’s website from previous years, Richland Township is predicted to have around 90 inches of snow this season.

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