Tropical Weather

This GOES-16 satellite image taken Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019, at 17:00 UTC and provided by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows Hurricane Dorian, right, churning over the Atlantic Ocean. Hurricane Dorian struck the northern Bahamas on Sunday as a catastrophic Category 5 storm, its 185 mph winds ripping off roofs and tearing down power lines as hundreds hunkered in schools, churches and other shelters. (NOAA via AP)

UF classes are canceled on Wednesday as Hurricane Dorian batters the Bahamas and continues to threaten Florida.

On Friday, the university canceled classes on Tuesday, and Wednesday classes were canceled Monday. The decision was made to help students who may be traveling back to Gainesville or assisting their storm-affected families, UF announced. “Hazardous conditions” are not expected to reach Gainesville.

Classes are expected to resume on Thursday. 

Campus will be completely closed on Tuesday, meaning facilities such as the Reitz Student Union, RecSports and libraries won’t be open, according to the announcement. Campus facilities will reopen on Wednesday, and all are expected to operate on a normal schedule.

Essential university personnel, which are usually medical, law enforcement and information technology staff, are expected to report to work on Tuesday, UF spokesperson Steve Orlando said. 

UF’s Emergency Operations Team has been meeting every day since the hurricane turned toward Florida, Orlando added. The team recommended UF President Kent Fuch’s ‘policy group’ to cancel classes.  

“Ultimately, it’s the president that makes the decision,” Orlando said. “Of course, the number one priority is student safety.”

While some students are excited for an extra day off, other students who are affected by the hurricane think classes should be canceled past Wednesday. 

Kate Temple, a 28-year-old UF sociology doctoral student, is in Daytona Beach taking care of her grandmother who uses an oxygen tank to breathe. Temple has been boarding up windows, stocking up on food and water and moving patio furniture inside since last Friday. Temple said she wants to stay for post-storm yard cleanup, too. 

“I’m disappointed that UF has relegated Wednesday as a travel day for people to return to Gainesville to start business back up on Thursday,” Temple said. “As if somehow there’s not going to be cleanup responsibilities, repair responsibilities, even travel issues.”

Temple needs to travel through a two-lane forested road to get back to Gainesville, but she anticipates the roads will be flooded with water and blocked by trees, increasing her travel time.

When Hurricane Irma hit Florida in 2017, it took a week for Temple to get back to UF because of similar conditions. 

“I don’t think UF is really, truly considering the needs of its people,” she said. “Just because Alachua county isn’t going to be directly affected according to current radar predictions, that doesn’t mean that people who are a part of the UF community will not be directly affected.”