Bad weather closes school

The decision was made Thursday night by Hillsborough County emergency operations center to cancel classes at USF today due to the threat of Tropical Storm Gabrielle, said Michael Reich, a USF spokesman.

The storm was located at 25.5 north latitude, 84.3 west longitude, about 165 miles west south west of Naples with winds at 50 miles per hour Thursday night. The storm was moving northeast and expected to hit Florida this afternoon.

Junior Darmian Bull said he found it hard to get news about the tropical storm approaching Florida?s Gulf coast. The news stations have been covering the attack on America with little attention to local stories, he said.

?When I turned on the news, it was only focused on New York,? Bull said. ?The state probably doesn?t even know.?

But USF is preparing for the storm that may hit the Tampa Bay area.

Rick Fender, associate vice president for Administrative Services, said USF has low drainage systems in certain areas of the campus, which based on past experience, could cause flooding.

If flooding becomes a problem on campus, Fender said portable emergency pumps can be installed by Physical Plant to redirect the excess water.

Areas around Beta Hall, Mu Hall, Magnolia Apartments and the Business Building usually flood, Fender said.

?Personnel will be paying close attention to those areas to deploy pumps and place sandbags in doorways,? he said.

Decisions made to close the university are usually made by the governor or Hillsborough County emergency operations center, Fender said.

Students can access any hurricane information through the USF Web site . The link is located at the bottom of the home page and contains information on the latest hurricane information and safety precaution advice for students.

Sgt. Mike Klingebiel, University Police spokesman, said his department will continue to work 12-hour shifts, that have already been assigned due to Tuesday?s terrorist attack, until the end of this week.

Klingebiel said a majority of students who live on campus are from the local area, and they will be asked to go home for the weekend if the tropical storm is a threat.

?This will free up the space in dorms so all residents can stay together,? Klingbiel said.

?We locate all residents in an area so they can be found if parents need to contact them.?

Klingebiel said this takes a lot of preplanning by asking Residence Services to provide UP with a list of residents so contacts can be provided to family members if needed.

Freshman Sarah Stumpf, a resident in Castor hall, said she didn?t hear about the storm until Thursday because of the continued coverage on New York and Washington D.C.

?If the storm gets stronger, I will get a little more worried,? Stumpf said. ?I have been through three or four hurricanes before. I will most likely stay on campus if it?s not too serious.?

Arlene Laing, assistant professor for the geography department, said it is difficult to determine the path of the storm right now. Gulf of Mexico storms are hard to track in their early stages because they move around a lot, she said.

?It is very difficult to locate the center because convection develops within the storm,? Laing said. ?Tracking has to rely on satellite data to locate the eye.?

She said this is not a severe storm but it will cause a lot of rain and coastal flooding.

Contact Grace Agostinat