Prepare For Winter With Duke's Snow, Ice Plan

Review the plan and take a quiz to test your knowledge - and maybe win a prize

Landscape specialist Elvis Holden removes snow in front of Duke Chapel during a 2010 snowfall. Along with other Facilities staff, Holden will clear priority roads, parking lots and more in case of a winter snowfall. Courtesty of Duke Photo.
Landscape specialist Elvis Holden removes snow in front of Duke Chapel during a 2010 snowfall. Along with other Facilities staff, Holden will clear priority roads, parking lots and more in case of a winter snowfall. Courtesty of Duke Photo.

With winter officially here, Duke community members are encouraged to review Duke's updated snow and ice removal plan, which outlines how Duke works to clear campus during and after wintry precipitation.

The plan, prepared by Duke Facilities Management, is enhanced this year with new additions to campus, like areas surrounding the K4 dorm and the Duke Medical Pavilion and Cancer Center. Facilities also added plans in case a winter storm coincides with a Duke men's or women's basketball game, making fan parking lots, driving routes and a sidewalk from Circuit Drive priorities for snow or ice removal.

"The goal of our plan is to reduce the potential hazards caused by snow and ice storms, but due to the nature of winter storms and how unexpected they can be, some inconvenience should be expected," said John Noonan, vice president of Facilities. "While we work hard to clear areas as thoroughly and quickly as possible, pedestrians should still use care when walking around campus and motorists should drive cautiously."

In the plan, areas across Duke University and Duke University Health System are sectioned into 15 precincts with parking lots, sidewalks and building entrances cleared according to priority. Priority generally starts with Duke-owned roads, followed by some parking lots and garages, bus stops, pedestrian pathways and building entrances. Depending on the severity of a winter storm and scheduled events on campus, priorities are subject to change. The amount of time to clear snow and ice can also fluctuate depending on conditions.

Duke community members walking on campus during or after a winter storm are reminded to follow priority sidewalks and building entrances. Areas to avoid are sloped surfaces, stairs, ramps and paths not identified as preferred routes, according to the plan.

Staying Safe In Snow/Ice

Despite recent warmer-than-normal days, winter weather may be around the corner. Last year, the Raleigh-Durham International Airport received 8.3 inches of snow, the second snowiest December on record.

Keep these tips in mind while traveling around campus this winter:

  • Sloped surfaces, stairs, ramps and paths not identified as preferred routes should be avoided.
  • Where possible, walk inside (cut through) a building or parking garage to arrive at a preferred path of travel.
  • A "cleared priority area" does not mean the driving/walking surface is dry and free of snow/ice or slippery conditions.
  • Surfaces that may be dry during the day may be slippery overnight and into the next day.
  • Pedestrians should follow priority-cleared sidewalks to building entrances.

During a winter weather event, Duke University and Duke University Health System share responsibilities in providing removal by clearing priority areas first but not all areas can be cleared at once, officials said. There are 47 miles of sidewalks at Duke and hitting them all to remove snow or ice in short order is not possible, officials said. Crews will focus on main campus (West, Central and East) and Duke-owned off campus properties. A map of priority areas to be cleared is available at emergency.duke.edu.

With 2.2 million square feet of Duke-owned roads and 1.6 million square feet of high priority parking, students and employees should expect priority areas to be done first during harsh weather. The start time for clearing a wintry mix is dependent on weather patterns and the amount of accumulation.

For a moveable snowfall of about three inches, it will take crews four to six hours after precipitation ends to clear priority sidewalks and roadways. For bigger storms, clearing priority areas could take eight or more hours. Since no storms are alike, it's impossible to have a uniform amount of time to clear all priority areas of campus, Noonan said.