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Boston Weather: 32.0°F | Fair

MIT Shuts Early; Snow May Force Cancellation Today

By Michael J. Ring

EDITOR IN CHIEF

The worst nor’easter to strike New England in four years forced the early closure of MIT yesterday and may cause more cancellations today.

Vice President for Human Resources Laura Avakian announced Monday in a statement on the MIT Internet site that the Institute would close at 3:00 p.m. yesterday. Avakian continued that “only those employees designated at essential personnel” were to report for second and third shifts yesterday.

The Institute further urged all students and staff to call the Snow Line at 253-SNOW (253-7669) Tuesday morning for updated information about potential cancellations. In the event the Institute is closed today, information will also be broadcast on WBZ radio (AM 1030).

The last weather-related cancellation at MIT was on April 1, 1997, when several feet of snow blanketed New England in what has become known as the “April Fool’s Day” blizzard.

Severity of storm downgraded

The National Weather Service revised snowfall forecasts downward yesterday, as some precipitation fell as sleet, not snow, in the Boston area yesterday.

As of yesterday evening the weather service was predicting 8-16 inches of snow for the Boston area, down from earlier predictions of two feet. However the forecasters were still calling for two feet of snow in interior regions.

For a complete forecast, turn to page 2 of today’s issue.

Institute grapples with storm

A crew of 20 people were working overnight to clear the snow and ice, according to Ruth T. Davis, Communications Manager of the Facilities Department.

Davis said that all systems were operating as of yesterday, but also noted “one unfortunate incident where one student with special needs couldn’t get into his or her room.”

Davis was more optimistic about the facilities department’s ability to cope as snowfall predictions were downgraded Monday. “When we were expecting one to two inches an hour, it would have been a problem to keep up with shoveling,” Davis said.

Davis said that any person with special needs having difficulty getting around campus could call 253-1500 for assistance 24 hours a day.

City, state issue emergency orders

The city of Cambridge declared a snow emergency at 8:00 a.m. yesterday morning, banning on-street parking along designated major arteries. The Metropolitan District Commission has also instituted a parking ban on Memorial Drive and other roads under its jurisdiction. Cars violating the parking bans have been towed.

Governor Paul Cellucci declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts at midnight Monday. Cellucci ordered all non-essential state employees to stay home yesterday and asked private businesses to consider doing the same, according to The Boston Globe.

Perhaps the greatest concern with this storm is coastal flooding. The National Weather Service has issued a coastal flood warning for most of the area’s shoreline. Of particular concern is this morning’s high tide, during which the weather service predicts surges of up to 3.5 feet. Coastal communities such as Hull and Revere were expected to open emergency shelters last night, according to Boston.com.

Matthew Palmer contributed to the reporting of this story.