Winter’s here, but are you ready? Be smart and drive safely.

Anyone new to Pittsburgh and its climate may be facing some uncertainty as winter has surely arrived, bringing with it snow and ice.

For some, experiencing low temperatures and seeing snow for the first time can be exciting but a little nerve-wracking. Now that Oakland's first snowfall of the season is under its belt, the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management has a few friendly reminders about staying warm and safe this winter.

It's not unusual for temperatures to fall below freezing in Western Pennsylvania. Occasionally, temps will drop dangerously low into the single-digit and negative ranges. When that happens, frostbite and hypothermia become real concerns. Frostbite occurs when the skin and tissue just beneath it freeze. Hypothermia happens when your body temperature becomes too low. Check the forecast and be sure to dress the part.

The roads can be just as dangerous for pedestrians, who in addition to dealing with icy sidewalks, need to be aware that vehicles can't always stop on slick roads. If using an intersection, do not cross the street until you're sure that all vehicles have come to a complete stop.


  • Reduce your speed

  • Turn on your headlights

  • Avoid hard braking and hard acceleration. Doing either can lead to loss of control

  • Keep an ice scraper and snow brush in your vehicle

  • Have a flashlight and fresh batteries

  • Keep a bag of salt or kitty litter in the trunk

  • Keep a blanket or a sleeping bag in your vehicle in case you get stuck and need to wait for help.


If the conditions become too treacherous, getting to class or work can be a problem.

Recently, Dave DeJong, senior vice chancellor of business and operations, sent the Pitt community a reminder about the Closure and Class Cancellation Policy. If there is a change in normal operations, it will be announced through the University’s Emergency Notification Service, in addition to the University website, the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management website, Facebook, Twitter and local media outlets.

Among the plan’s highlights:

  • Establishes a standard University-wide Closure and Class Cancellation Policy.

  • Reviews that, in instances when the University is not closed during extreme weather or natural disaster, University members — students, faculty and staff — should use their own judgment in deciding whether they can safely commute to or around campus.

  • Clarifies the roles and responsibilities of University members in the rare instances in which the University is closed.

  • Notes that only the chancellor can close the Pittsburgh campus. Presidents of regional campuses are authorized to make decisions on closure and class cancellations for their respective campuses.

For more information and resources to help you plan around winter weather, go to the Public Safety and Emergency Management website ( Stay informed about Pitt’s weather forecast by visiting the University’s WeatherSTEM site.

If you or someone you know is experiencing an emergency, please call 412-624-2121.

— From the Office of Public Safety