UNIVERSITY PARK, CENTRE COUNTY - University officials are carefully monitoring the path of Hurricane Sandy as it moves at about 14 miles per hour toward land, with expected impacts of high winds and flooding on Pennsylvania.
At this time, there are no plans to cancel or delay classes on the University Park campus, according to Brian Bittner, Penn State's emergency manager, since the brunt of the storm will not be focused over central Pennsylvania, although residents will experience inclement weather.
"Based on the current forecast, it looks like we can expect a lot of rain and some strong winds of about 25 miles per hour to 35 mph in the Centre Region," Bittner said. "At times, there could be sustained winds and some gusts of up to 60 mph. Everyone should use caution when traveling, walking or going outdoors at all. If the weather pattern in Central Pennsylvania changes, we will adapt our plans accordingly, but right now University Park remains open."
At University Park, the sold-out "Child Sexual Abuse Conference: Traumatic Impact, Prevention and Intervention," will still be held on Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 29-30, at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel. There also is an event planned for this evening (Oct. 28), a panel conversation with sexual abuse survivors to be held in Eisenhower Auditorium, that also will go on as scheduled. The full conference schedule, including several sessions slated for live-streaming, is at http://protectchildren.psu.edu/agenda.
The approach of the category 1 hurricane has already caused the closing of several Penn State campuses in the eastern part of the state. Southeastern Pennsylvania is expected to take on the heaviest impact of the storm with sustained winds of 30-40 mph and gusts of up to 80 mph. The rain is forecast to move southeast to northeast, and some areas of Pennsylvania like the Laurel Highlands are predicted to receive two to three inches of snow. According to forecasts, University Park will receive rain Monday into early Tuesday, about three to five inches. Flooding across parts of the Commonwealth is expected, as are downed trees and power outages.
"This is an unprecedented type of storm and the devil is certainly in the details," Bittner said. "If the storm moves several miles in one direction or the other, that's when change will occur. Because of this uncertainty, we are monitoring it closely in conjunction with the National Weather Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and officials from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. Everyone is on alert."
Faculty, staff, students and visitors visiting campuses should use their own best judgment when considering traveling to campus or the need to leave early during times of inclement weather. Personal safety should be the driving factor for determining if a person should travel.
Staff may charge their absence to vacation time when weather conditions cause a concern for personal safety. As usual, supervisors should make every effort to accommodate employees who wish to leave work early because of the weather. Faculty and staff also should review "Handling Weather Day Absences" (Human Resources Guideline 10) on the Web at http://guru.psu.edu/policies/OHR/hrg10.html for specific information on how time missed for weather situations is handled.
For information on the delay or cancellation of classes due to inclement weather, the Penn State community at the University Park campus should check WPSU-FM and Penn State's news website. In addition, weather-related advisories affecting Penn State campuses across the state will be sent directly to cell phones, email, the Penn State Facebook page and Twitter via PSUTXT. Campuses also will post information to their own home web pages.
To subscribe to PSUTXT, visit http://live.psu.edu/psutxt. Once there, faculty, staff and students should click on the link to login via WebAccess. Existing users then can link their PSUTXT accounts to their Penn State access account ID, and new users can use the form to create a new account.
Members of the community who do not have a Penn State access account can use the public form at http://live.psu.edu/psutxt to login or create a new account.