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A snowy scene on the Iowa State Campus on Jan. 18.

UPDATE: Iowa State has announced all Tuesday and Wednesday classes are canceled. Classes will resume on Thursday at noon.

Iowa State has canceled classes beginning 5 p.m. Tuesday through 12 p.m. Thursday due to a potentially record-setting cold front expected to hit Ames and the greater part of Iowa.

With wind chills expected as low as -40 degrees with the ability to reach -50 degrees, Tuesday and Wednesday could be the coldest days on record in Iowa since February 1996 when the record for all time coldest temperature in Iowa history was tied.

“These are once-in-a-decade levels of cold, and in this case it could be one of the coldest — if not the coldest day — since 1996,” said Jim Lee, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Des Moines. “While it won’t be contesting the all-time record low of -47 degrees without a wind chill, the incoming levels of cold will be “dangerously low.”

If students do choose to go outside, they should remember to dress accordingly with layers and to cover all extremities including the hands and face.

“Take shelter in buildings to warm yourself frequently,” according to an email from Pam Cain, interim senior vice president for finance and university services.

“I can’t stress enough the importance of layering clothing, with wind chills between -30 and -40 it would take 15 minutes or less for an uncovered area of your body to develop frostbite,” Lee said.

Despite the cancelation, the women’s basketball game Tuesday and the men’s basketball game Wednesday will be played as scheduled.

The last time classes were canceled was in 2014.

For classes to be canceled, many factors are taken into consideration. Iowa State’s senior vice president for university services makes the decision, with consultation from the president, provost, public safety officials, the Iowa Department of Transportation, city of Ames, CyRide and maintenance staff.

The Closing and Cancelations policy states that "generally, when CyRide is operating and streets and sidewalks are passable, the university remains open."

There is no policy on when professors are required to cancel classes, "most of the time it's based on whether or not they can make it in safely, then it's in their best interest and the student's to cancel class," said Pam Cain, the senior interim vice president for University Services in a previous interview.

If a decision is made, the information can be found on the university's home page or local media. Students can call the Campus Information Center at (515)-294-4357 with any safety concerns.

The University of Iowa sent a “Hawk Alert” at 1 p.m. Monday stating classes will be canceled from 5 p.m. Tuesday through 12 p.m. Thursday.

“We strongly encourage all organizers of non-academic events to cancel given the extreme weather. In all cases we urge students, faculty, and staff to use good judgement and avoid serious risks during these extreme weather conditions,” according to the alert.

The Iowa State Environmental Health and Safety website states Iowa State remains open when other public schools are closed because “Most Iowa State students live within walking distance of campus and CyRide routes. (Approximately 85 percent live in Ames)” and “the loss of a class period can seriously affect a number of programs.”

Lee suggested people “bundle up, seriously bundle up,” along with a few other recommendations:

  1. Layer clothing as much as possible, covering every part of the body.
  2. If you feel numbness, pain or extreme cold in your extremities, seek shelter and warm up.
  3. If you can avoid walking, avoid it.
  4. To reiterate: a sweater and jeans will not cut it, the more layers the better.

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