University cancels classes Monday

The University canceled classes for Monday, campus spokeswoman Robin Kaler said in an email early Monday morning.

Although classes were canceled, the University will still remain open. In a mass email to campus early Monday morning, Chancellor Phyllis Wise said, "As a matter of policy, the Urbana campus does not fully close. The residential and research aspects of operations make it impossible to close the entire campus."

This is the first time since February 2011 that the University canceled classes.

Following Sunday’s winter storm, Provost Ilesanmi Adesida sent a mass email Sunday night to campus discouraging students who had not yet returned to campus from returning due to hazardous conditions on Interstate 57.

Temperatures in the area have been around 10 to 20 degrees lower than the average high for this time of year, which is about 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

The low temperatures are due to cold air circulating between Champaign-Urbana and the North Pole, said Eric Snodgrass, an atmospheric sciences professor. He said this cold air usually shifts through the uppermost part of the Northern Hemisphere during the winter, but this winter it remains over the area.

The reason for the shift, Snodgrass said, is due to what is called a blocking high — an area of high pressure which usually stays in one place for a few days.

“Over the past two weeks, a large blocking high has been sitting over Greenland bringing warm air there and cold air here,” he said.

Snodgrass said Greenland’s blocking high is expected to move eastward by March 31, leaving the Champaign-Urbana area with warmer temperatures.

The dropping temperatures are affecting students across campus, especially those involved in outdoor sports.

Nicole Druktenis, the captain of a co-ed intramural soccer team and a senior in AHS, said she is worried about her teammates not wanting to play in the cold.

“I have no problem with the cold, but we can’t play in the snow,” she said.

With games starting next week, she said this may be an issue.

Atmospheric scientists can predict the lengths of cold weather periods by using the Arctic oscillation index, a measure of climate patterns of wind circulating the arctic. When the index is positive, the cold stays confined to the north and south poles and when it is negative, as it has been this winter, the cold moves southward.

“It’s ironic that after sailing through winter without much cold or snow that in March we get so much snow and cold weather,” said Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel.

Arctic oscillation has a strong impact on the climate of our area, causing these fluctuations, Angel said. When the index is far in the negative, the temperatures can drop up to 20 or 30 degrees lower than usual.

Angel said there is a battle between warm air from Mexico and cold air from Canada. At this time, he said, the cold from Canada is prevailing.

Ariell can be reached at news@dailyillini.com.