Winter weather can include snow, ice, wintry mix, and winter storms. These conditions can be difficult for pedestrians and drivers, so prepare yourself with these procedures.

If you notice winter conditions that are causing issues in specific locations on the UMass Amherst campus:

  • Call the Facilities Service Center (413-545-6401)
  • Report location and conditions (icy walkways, snow on sidewalks or blocking access to buildings.
  • Let them know where the problem is, and they will do their best to fix it fast.

For severe weather closing information at the University, visit the Emergency Closing Status page.

Walking on snow & ice

  • Plan ahead, give yourself sufficient time and plan your route.
  • Wear flat shoes or boots that provide traction on snow and ice. Avoid heels
    • Footwear made of rubber and neoprene composite provide better traction than plastic and leather soles.
  • Move slowly -  take short steps or shuffle for stability.
  • Use special care when entering and exiting vehicles, climbing or descending stairs, entering or leaving buildings.
    • Try to keep your center of gravity over your support leg.
    • Use handrails for support.
  • Keep your hands out of your pockets.
  • Don’t text or read while walking.
  • Bend slightly forward and walk flat-footed with your center of gravity directly over your feet as much as possible.
  • Be prepared to fall. If you fall, fall with sequential contacts at your thigh, hip and shoulder.
    • Avoid using outstretched arms to brace yourself.
    • Bend your back and head forward to avoid hitting your head against the ground.

Driving through winter conditions

  • Always buckle your seat belt.
  • Always clear off your vehicle before operating it.
    • Remove snow from headlights and brake lights.
    • Remove snow from all windows and make sure they are adequately defrosted
    • Remove anything that could fly off, including ice or snow, as you are responsible for any damage that occurs.
  • Always maintain a safe following distance from other vehicles and slow down well before an anticipated stop.
  • All-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive, is not four-wheel stop. It serves to help move the car, not stop – be sure to give yourself plenty of time to stop.
  • Try to always maintain 1/2 tank of gas. If you run out of gas, you run out heat in your car.
  • Don't use the cruise control in wintry conditions.

Ice safety

As the lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers freeze during winter months, residents may be eager to start skating, playing hockey, ice fishing, and enjoying other winter activities. However, frozen bodies of water can be dangerous.

Generally, ice that forms on moving water (rivers, streams, and brooks) is never safe. Ice freezes and thaws at different rates and the thickness of ice on ponds and lakes can vary depending on water currents, springs, depth, and natural objects such as tree stumps or rocks. It can be a foot thick in one area and just inches thick a few feet away. Daily changes in temperature also affect its strength.

Due to these factors, no one can declare the ice to be completely safe from danger. The only safe ice is at a skating arena.