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Boston Weather: 81.0°F | Mostly Cloudy

Blizzard of '93 Forces Athena Shutdown, Cancels Activities

By Hyun Soo Kim
Associate News Editor

The Blizzard of '93 swept through MIT last weekend but caused no major damage. It forced a brief shutdown of some Athena servers and a wave of early closings and cancellations of activities.

The snow started falling at about noon on Saturday in the Boston area, snowing heaviest between 3 and 4 p.m. It snowed until 6 p.m. and began to mix with ice pellets and turned to rain around 8 p.m. Logan International Airport officially measured between 12 and 13 inches of snow and reported wind gusts up to 80 miles per hour, according to Michael C. Morgan G, a meteorologist.

"In terms of the central pressure of the storm, it was one of the most intense and largest storms. Also, as it moved up the east coast, it covered a large geographical area," said Morgan.

MIT activities cancelled

The grounds crew worked around the clock over the weekend to clear the snow, according to a secretary in physical plant. Networks, Lobdell Court, and the libraries were closed early on Saturday.

Many activities were cancelled. Zeta Beta Tau cancelled its "Irish Spring Fling" party on Saturday, and the Alpha Chi Omega formal was postponed.

"Everyone was disappointed because at the end of the day it wasn't that bad, but no one could get to the Lenox Hotel [where the formal was to take place] because the cab services, the T, and busses stopped. It will probably be rescheduled, but it will be hard because every weekend from here on out is busy at MIT," said AXO President Coleen M. Kaiser '94.

On the other hand, New House residents found the storm a perfect justification for a party.

"A bunch of us decided to have a spontaneous party on Saturday night because of the big storm," said Todd T. Foley '94. "Everyone was trapped because of the storm, so it was a perfect excuse to have a party. Everyone was free because all these fraternity parties and concerts were cancelled."

The storm forced many students to stay in their dormitories over the weekend. Also, since Logan Airport was closed over the weekend, some visitors were stuck at MIT.

"I was inside the whole time over the weekend," said Anne Chau '96. "My friend who was visiting from University of Pennsylvania couldn't get back because the airport was closed."

Athena servers down

A power failure struck the east side of campus at 4:54 p.m. on Saturday and caused 30 Athena servers to crash, according to Janet M. Daly, information officer of Academic Computing Services.

"This is where users felt problems: the zephyr service was temporarily disabled and two AFS servers were down, and the dial-up servers were hit heavily," Daly said.

Most of the Athena servers in Building E40, which includes dial-up servers, were down from 5 to 7 p.m. After 7 p.m., only two servers still had problems, but most services were back up within the first hour, said Daly.

Daly added that five AFS servers had hardware failures, and two of the servers required service calls for hardware maintenance.

"Because of the storm, people didn't leave their dorms, and were dialing in from home. So users may have perceived more problems due to the larger number of users and because some dial-up servers were down," Daly said.

Daly added that the MIT network stayed operable throughout the storm.

Due to the severity of the storm, only one staff member, Thomas J. Coppeto, was able cross the Longfellow Bridge into Cambridge to assess and repair the problems caused by the power hit. Other staffers made software adjustments to finish the repairs.

"Because of physical problems getting to campus, we weren't able to gather up a full team. So repairs went a bit more slowly than we usually like," Daly said.

CPs report no serious accidents

"We were pretty lucky this time around. We didn't have a lot of unusual activity," said Captain John E. Driscoll of the Campus Police. "It looks like most of the people stayed off the streets. There were no reports of accidents related to the storm."

On Saturday, many transportation services around Boston closed. "Safe Ride didn't operate on Saturday. There were pretty much whiteout conditions and the roads were so bad," Driscoll said.

In addition, the MBTA busses halted for a while, Driscoll said.