Winter Closures at LTCC
January 8, 2020
The forecast calls for winter weather! Occasionally, heavy storms can interrupt normal business around town and on LTCC's campus. When the decision is made to close LTCC's campus, that information is shared:
- Via the LTCC Alert system. All current students (and any parent or community member who wishes to) can enroll to receive free text, email or phone messages automatically using LTCC Alert.
- On the college's social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
- On the free Coyote Corner app
- On LTCC's website homepage (www.ltcc.edu)
- On the college’s main phone line message at (530) 541-4660
Lake Tahoe Community College and its leadership team has a set of guidelines and processes it uses in deciding about winter closures that reflects our concern for student, staff and faculty safety, while keeping the educational needs of our students firmly in mind.
Below is a list of considerations and resources LTCC’s leadership team uses to determine whether the college should open or not during inclement weather.
Traffic/weather camera check-ins for live conditions (Ski Run, the Y, etc.).
Communication with local partners (City of SLT, Lake Tahoe Unified School District, Tahoe Transportation District, several local and regional public safety agencies).
News reports & information from the Sierra Avalanche Center.
Updates from on-campus snow removal crew members.
On-the-ground intel gathered from a nine-member leadership team that lives throughout the community (The Y, Meyers, Christmas Valley, Sierra Tract, Kingsbury Grade, etc.).
Forecasted snow amounts. Feet falling on top of feet of snow or multiple days of snow accumulation are typically impacting factors.
Weather warnings: winter storm watch versus winter storm warning versus blizzard warning. A winter storm watch is issued when there’s a potential for significant and hazardous weather within 48 hours. A winter storm warning is issued when significant and hazardous winter weather is occurring or is imminent, with snow amounts of at least 5” predicted within a 12-hour period. A blizzard warning means snow or blowing snow that reduces visibility, making travel treacherous, is occurring or expected within 12-18 hours. LTCC heavily considers blizzard warnings.
Differing conditions around South Lake Tahoe and the Tahoe Basin. Conditions can be quite different within the Basin, and even within South Lake Tahoe due to micro-weather systems.
Forecasted snow amounts for 6,000 ft. versus 7,000 ft. and above. Sometimes the heavy stuff only falls up on top of the mountains, not down at lake level where campus is located.
- Input is considered from nine different campus leaders, a mix of administrators, communications staff, and maintenance/operations crew members.
- We strive to strike a balance of safety requirements along with instructional needs and the need for ongoing snow removal operations during longer storms.
- We consider parents who rely on LTCC’s Child Development Center for child care. If LTCC closes, it creates a hardship for working parents
- LTCC is not the Lake Tahoe Unified School District. We make closure decisions separately from LTUSD.
- LTUSD must consider the safety of young children who wait at residential school bus stops, often deep into neighborhoods with compromised roads, early in the morning during inclement weather. That is not a concern for LTCC, which has adult learners who don’t rely on LTCC-run school buses. LTCC communicates with TTD during weather events about their bus availability and schedule.
- Funding does not play a role in our decision to open or close – we are not funded for being open.
- LTUSD can make up class days lost to snow closures at the end of the school term in June. LTCC does not have that option, and cancellations create lost instructional time for students that cannot be easily made up. This is lost classroom time that our students are paying for, unlike LTUSD students.
LTCC's administration recognizes that this is an imperfect science, and weather can change quickly. Forecasts are often imprecise and can change rapidly in an alpine environment. There is an expectation that adult college students will take personal responsibility for preparing for snow events, and using their own best judgment when necessary. When forecasts call for snow, students should plan ahead and be prepared for compromised travel conditions. If a student determines that it isn’t safe for them to travel due to local conditions, then it’s best to communicate that ahead of time with instructors to make other arrangements. Lastly, if any student finds themselves stranded on campus during a snow event and in need of help, they should ask for help from any college employee. LTCC is working on an emergency taxi service program, to be available through the One-Stop Office located in the Main Building Commons. This will be an option for any student stranded on campus due to inclement weather conditions.
Visit LTCC's winter weather webpage for more information.