Winter Storm Response Plan

Pittsburg State University

Physical Plant Department


Inclement Weather

Winter Storm Response Plan


February 2010


Notification of Winter Storms

Pittsburg State University will use all available sources to predict and track winter storms.  Local television weather forecasts, the Weather Channel on cable television, and satellite information available on the internet will all be monitored closely.  When severe weather is forecasted, the University also receives notification bulletins from the National Weather Service.  During the nighttime hours, University Police will closely monitor street conditions due to severe weather conditions (snow, ice and windstorms).  If weather conditions appear hazardous or dangerous, the patrol supervisor will contact the Vice President for Administration & Campus Life no later than 4:30 AM. to consult about current conditions of the city streets, campus streets, University parking lots and sidewalks.  In preparation for recommendation to the President, the Vice President for Administration and Campus Life shall make an assessment of weather conditions, including snow removal, streets and sidewalks, hazards to students and employees traveling to and from the campus and the ability to provide energy. The most accurate and dependable source will be used to determine the University's response.

Activation of Winter Storm Response by the
Physical Plant Department

The Directors of the Physical Plant Department will direct and oversee the Department's response to winter storms.  The Directors will coordinate response plans with the Vice President of Administration and Campus Life, Landscape supervisors and Custodial supervisors.  Landscape and Custodial supervisors will be responsible for the employees they are supervising during the winter storm response period.

When winter storms are predicted, the Directors will notify appropriate supervisors who in turn will notify their employees of the possible severe weather and put them on standby for possible extended work hours or after hours call back.
If a winter storm occurs during normal hours of operations for the Physical Plant, all available equipment and employees will be deployed.  Depending on the forecast of the strength and duration of the storm, the Directors of the Physical Plant may divide the Physical Plant work crews and send part of them home after their regular shift is completed to be called back on later shifts.  The Landscape department supervisors may call employees in for earlier shifts and every effort will be made to evenly distribute the amount of hours worked among the available work force.  We will ask for volunteers first and if we do not get volunteers than we will use our mandatory list to have employees come in to cover the early shift.
If a winter storm occurs after normal hours of operation for the University, the Physical Plant relies on information provided by University Police to activate the winter storm response.  When roads, parking lots and sidewalks start to deteriorate during the night, University Police will call the Vice President of Administration and Campus Life and Physical Plant Directors and give them the information at that time for us to determine to call out university personnel and private contractors.  The severity of the storm will determine how many employees and contractors are to be called out before the start of the normal hours of operation. 


Issue a Declaration of Inclement Weather
And close the University

The Governor has delegated to the President the responsibility and exclusive authority to make a Declaration of Inclement Weather for PSU because of severe weather conditions.  When a Declaration is issued by the President, he/she has the responsibility and authority to maintain essential services and provide for the protection of resident students and University property.  Each area administrator (Vice President, Dean, Director, Chairperson and Area Supervisor) must determine their staffing requirements to ensure the maintenance of essential programs and activities.

Pittsburg State University will be considered closed from the time of the Declaration announcement until the indicated time that the University will reopen.

Benefits-Eligible Employees who perform essential services are expected to report to work for their regular schedule, called in early or continue to work their regular schedule in accordance with the supervisor's instructions.  Some examples of essential services include maintenance of building operations, clearing of walkways, streets and parking lots, student resident hall services and public safety.

Benefits-Eligible Employees who do not perform essential services are not expected to report to work if the Declaration is issued before the start of their regular work schedule.  They are expected to leave work as soon as possible when a Declaration is issued after they have reported to work.
If the President issues a Declaration of Inclement Weather, it is important that essential employees are able to perform their duties so that the campus can be reopened as soon as possible.  Non-essential employees should leave campus when a Declaration of Inclement Weather is issued and not return until the University is reopened. This will ensure that essential employees responsible for clearing sidewalks, parking lots, streets and other University property have unobstructed access to these areas along with safety and efficiency in working the areas.

The Vice President for Administration and Campus Life will contact the President before 5:00 AM. to begin discussions regarding potential closure of the University.  The President will seek additional input from the Provost and the Vice President of University Advancement.

By 5:30 AM. the President will make the decision to: a) Issue a Declaration of Inclement Weather and close the University, b) Keep the University open but cancel classes, or c) Keep the University open and classes in session.  See Inclement Weather Policy for University Employees.

When a decision has been made, the President shall call the Director of Public Relations or a designee who will notify University constituents as follows:


  • Update the University's website.

  • Notify the news media (television and radio stations) in Pittsburg area.

  • Notify the President's Council.

  • Notify all sponsors of campus events. Notification will be sent in a timely fashion to media of changes in the University Calendar.


The Vice President for Administration and Campus Life shall notify the Crisis Management Director, The Director of Building Trades and Landscape Services, the Director of Custodial and General Services and the Manager of Telecommunication Services advising them of the decision that has been made.  In consultation with these directors, the following actions will occur:


  • Notify students, faculty, and staff by e-mail.

  • Notify students, faculty and staff by text message.

  • Contact snow/ice removal contractors as necessary.

  • Schedule staffing levels as needed for clearing sidewalks, buildings steps, ramps etc.

  • Record appropriate inclement weather message on the President's Office and main    University telephone numbers.


During normal working hours, the same procedures to decide whether to dismiss employees early or to cancel afternoon or evening classes will be followed.  The President's Office together with the Vice Presidents shall be responsible for disseminating information to campus offices on weather emergencies through Mr. Bulk-E, a "calling tree," and/or other established measures.

  Responding to Winter Storms

The Physical Plant will respond to all winter storms that take place during regular work day hours and after regular work hours.  Priorities and work schedules will be set depending on the time and strength of the storm and what events are happening on campus during the storm.  These priorities will have to be determined by information that we have such as schedules, calendars and information we get from departments.

The first priority for the Physical Plant under typical circumstances is that the Landscape, Custodial and Housing Maintenance departments will clear sidewalks, ramps and stoops to Gibson dining hall for on-campus student residents.  At the same time they will also be clearing sidewalks, ramps and stoops at each campus building and sidewalks that lead to parking areas.  The Landscape department will also be clearing Crescent Drive west of Russ Hall.  The Landscape department, Custodial department and Housing department will apply ice melt and salt/sand mix prior to the storm if rain is not preceding the snow or ice storm.  After they have cleared the snow, they also will be applying ice melt, salt/sand to areas that they have cleared.

If the storm happens before the work day begins, the outside contractors will begin clearing Lindburg and Cleveland streets and priority parking lots before employees come to campus.  The City of Pittsburg is responsible for clearing Broadway, Joplin, Ford, Homer, Elm, and Locust streets.  The parking lots to be cleared first by contractors will be the Grubbs lot, Gold lot, Lindburg lot east of the Physical Plant, Brown lot, Axe Library delivery dock, and Shirk lot for University Police and the KTC lot.  Employees are encouraged to park in one of the priority parking lots after they have been cleared when showing up to campus that morning.  This will allow safer more efficient snow clearing for Physical Plant and contractor personnel.  If the streets and parking stalls have been cleared employees can park in the street parking stalls; if not please park in priority parking lots.
The second priority for parking lots will be the Student Recreation Center, Tyler Research Center, Weede, McPherson, Kelce, Alumni Center, Timmons Chapel, the delivery entrance drives to Gibson Dining Hall and Bryant Student Health Center.

The third priority for parking lots will be all the housing lots.  Because of students parking in these lots it will be hard to clear these lots safely and efficiently.  The Physical Plant and contractors will clear driving lanes in these lots to the best of their ability.

We will lose some parking stalls in the parking lots and on the street for piling the snow.  Handicapped parking stalls and ramps will be cleared immediately.  When the snow has been cleared in the priority lots and streets, the Physical Plant and contractors will start to remove the piles of snow with loaders and dump trucks.  The Physical Plant will continue to clear and treat sidewalks during all these processes. 

If the storm hits during regular working hours and the University remains open, the Physical Plant will clear sidewalks, ramps and building entrances.   Parking lots and streets will not be safe to clear while cars are parked in those areas.  If the Inclement Weather Policy is put into effect during regular working hours, non-essential personnel need to leave the University as soon as they can so the Physical Plant can begin administering the response plan efficiently for the re-opening of the University.

Pretreatment of Sidewalks and
Parking Lots

The Physical Plant is to pre-treat sidewalks and parking lots with a dry mixture of one part salt with three parts sand.  We also use ice melt instead of salt and sand at times.  We apply this mixture using salt spreaders mounted on gators and trucks.  The Landscape supervisor consults with the Director of Building Trades and Maintenance and various weather information systems before making the decision that pretreatment is necessary or advisable.  Once a decision is made to pre-treat, a schedule is then established to ensure that areas get pretreated properly and timely.

When the forecast calls for rain before the freezing participation, pretreatment is not initiated until rain has stopped.  The application of pretreatment materials prior or during rain fall would only be washed off sidewalks and parking lots.
Pretreatment applications continue throughout the clearing process especially on sidewalks for pedestrian safety.
Physical Plant Department Work Force

The Landscape department will be the employees first placed into service when responding to winter storms.  Depending on the storm's strength and duration, this crew may be divided into two groups to provide early service to the University.  There are fifteen landscape employees.

The Custodial department will also be responding early to clear building accesses such as stoops, stairs and ramps with brooms, shovels, snow blowers and ice melt.


 Landscape Department Personnel

Cate Walker                     Landscape Architect II
Jack Reed                        Physical Plant Supervisor
Kerry Geier                      Equipment Operator Senior
Tim Anderson                  Equipment Operator Senior
Dan Thompson                Equipment Operator Senior
Zack Quier                      Equipment Operator Senior
Kevin Jones                     Equipment Operator Senior
Jason Mandersheid          Equipment Operator Senior
Dan Prince                      Equipment Operator Senior
Bill Lollar                        Equipment Operator Senior
Ray Tatum                      Equipment Operator Senior
Drew Christiansen           Equipment Operator Senior
Andrew Lance                 Equipment Operator Senior


Snow Removal Equipment
Landscape Department

Most of the University's snow removal equipment used in response to winter storms is under the control of the Landscape Department of the Physical Plant.  The use of equipment when responding to a winter storm will be at the direction of the Landscape Architect, the landscape supervisor and crew leader.


Streets, Driveways and Parking Lot Equipment:

2000 Dodge 4 x 4, ¾ ton pickup truck with 8' snow plow.

1999 Dodge 4 x 4, ¾ ton pickup truck with 9' snow plow.

2006 L25B Volvo Loader

1 ton dump truck with large salt/sand spreader mounted in bed of truck.

Hesston 40 H.P. tractor, with cab, with 5' rear blade, occasionally used for clearing pavement.

B7500 Kubota, 4 x 4 mini-tractor, without cab, with front-end bucket, occasionally useful for pushing snow on pavements.



Bobcat, with 60" broom or 5' bucket for pushing or loading snow.

3400 Hustler, with cab, with 48" broom.

3200 Hustler, with cab, with 48" broom.

ProGator, with cab, with Snow-Ex spreader for ice melt.

ProGator, with cab, with Snow-Ex spreader for ice melt.

Grasshopper, with cab, with 48" broom.

Vermeer V-3550a trencher (Plumbing department) with 48" front-end blade.



3 ton dump truck.

1 ton dump truck.



Walk-behind John Deere 24" snow blower.

Tools such as hand held snow blowers, shovels, scrapers and brooms.


Use of Private Contractors

There will be times when a storm's strength and duration is more than the Physical Plant can clear. At that time private contractors will be available to assist the University.  With limited resources of manpower and equipment, when a winter storm with greater strength and duration ascends, it will become necessary to employ private contractors to assist in the clearing activities in order to keep the University open or to ensure the re-opening of the University as soon as possible.  When snow accumulation is expected for three to four inches or more, outside contractors will be brought onto campus. The Physical Plant has contracted, through the Purchasing Office, contractors to assist in these clearing activities.  The contractors' responsibilities are primarily clearing the larger parking lots - Cleveland Street, Lindburg Street and McPherson Drive, as the Physical Plant takes care of sidewalks and smaller parking lots and drives.