Students’ dreams came true when Ball State announced it would be canceling classes — a rare occurrence that hasn’t happened for five years.

A message sent Wednesday morning from the National Weather Service (NWS) said a wind chill warning would be in effect for several central Indiana cities including Muncie until 1 p.m. Thursday. 

Ball State issued an emergency alert early Tuesday closing campus from 7 a.m. Wednesday until 11 a.m. Thursday because of dangerous subzero temperatures.

Other Indiana closures

Some public and private schools have also followed suit of closing Wednesday and opening later on Thursday.Both Purdue University and Indiana University announced closures in the late afternoon Tuesday for their main campuses in West Lafayette and Bloomington, respectively.

  • Notre Dame: closed 7 p.m. Tuesday until 1 p.m. Thursday
  • Purdue: closed Wednesday
  • Indiana University: closed Wednesday
  • Butler University: closed Wednesday
  • University of Indianapolis: closed Wednesday
  • Indiana Wesleyan University: closed Wednesday and until 1 p.m. Thursday
  • Taylor University: closed 5 p.m. Tuesday until 5 p.m. Thursday
  • Franklin College: closed Wednesday until noon Thursday
  • Martin University: closed Wednesday

Muncie Community Schools, Burris Laboratory School and Open Door Health Services will all be closed Wednesday as well.  

Only essential personnel were required to report to campus, with changed hours for testing labs and dining halls.

According to a Ball State press release, Jill Coleman, associate dean of the College of Sciences and Humanities and professor of geography, said temperatures like this are “an unusual but not unheard of occurrence.”

Wind chill, according to the NWS, is “the combination of very cold air and the wind” creating dangerously cold weather. Frostbite can occur quickly and even cause hypothermia or death if precautions are not taken, its website states.

Another NWS warning sent Wednesday said minimum wind chills of 20 to 40 below zero were predicted Wednesday night, and could cause frostbite on exposed skin in 10 minutes.

The last time classes were canceled was 2014 when a snowstorm dropped a foot of snow and dipped temperatures below zero, according to a Daily News story.

Students missed the first Monday and Tuesday of the spring semester that January and were later told they had to make up the missed days with Saturday and Friday evening classes.

The weekend classes weren’t popular, spurring a petition to be made against them. 

Dan Jacobsen, a Ball State telecommunications alumnus, remembers making up his classes the first two Saturdays of February.

“For my TCOM class, I think we came in, watched a film for an hour and wrote a one page essay,” Jacobsen said. “I also had PFW (physical education) swimming at 8 a.m. that semester, so that Saturday class was pretty annoying too.”

Kylie Leonard, a Ball State communications alumna who graduated in 2017, said attendance for the weekend classes was “nonexistent.”

“Most people used that as one of their personal days,” Leonard said. “I remember one of my classes [that] typically had 50 people was down to about six, including me.”

Senior media strategist Marc Ransford said there are currently no university-wide plans to make up for lost class time.

One of the last times Muncie saw temperatures and wind chill this low in 2019 was in 1994, according to Daily News archives. There were below zero wind chills on Jan. 18, 1994, and NWS urged people to stay indoors. However, classes weren’t canceled.

Instead, then-President John Worthen said he had received no medical advice that it would be dangerous to have students out on campus.

"This is no threat at all since people ski in weather like this all the time," he told The Daily News.

According to the report, wind chills were also predicted to range from 15 to 25 degrees below zero, with a wind chill of 46 below zero on the morning of Jan. 19, 1994. Still, classes continued. 

Coleman said record low temperatures in Muncie were on Jan. 18, 1994, with minus 29 degree temperatures, and winds gusts of 20 miles per hour creating minus 60 degree temperatures.


Source: National Weather Service, Government of Canada, Norwegian Meteorological Institute and Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, Hydrometeorological Centre of Russia. Free Vector Maps; Emily Wright, DN

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