Weather-induced cancelations aren’t quite as scarce for Hope as hen’s teeth, but they do have “once in a blue moon” beat.  The two partial-day closures this past Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 22-23, 2023, were the first in more than four years.  Since January 1978 (as best recorded), Hope has canceled classes only 11 full days and 7 partial days.  Here’s how some of those events played out.

January 26-27, 1978

Digging out after the great blizzard of January 1978
Digging out after the great blizzard of January 1978

The great blizzard of ’78, which continues to live in infamy throughout the region for its severity and duration, prompted the college to cancel classes for two full days on Thursday and Friday, Jan. 26-27.

The Anchor of Feb. 3, 1978, reported it this way: “The storms began on Wednesday evening and by the time the heavy winds and snow abated it had dumped over 30 inches on us with drifts up to eight feet.  With the entire state of Michigan as well as Ohio and Indiana immobilized, Hope College was forced to shut down. This was only the third time in over 50 years.”

Jan. 28, 1994

A harsh ice storm in January led Hope to cancel classes for the first time in 16 years nearly to the day.  With Holland’s roads and the college’s sidewalks coated with ice, Hope canceled classes on Friday, Jan. 28.

In addition to stopping classes, the storm also prompted some creative contingency planning.  The Hope and Adrian swim teams overcame the hazards of travel by changing their scheduled Jan. 28 Dow Center meet into a “phone meet.”

Each team swam at its home pool and compared its times by telephone.  The experience was a first for Hope, which had never previously competed in an athletic event by telephone.

Both Hope teams won: the men, 75-72; the women, 84-49.

Thursday-Friday, Jan. 16-17, 1997

A January blizzard’s worst prompted Hope to cancel classes for a day and a half.

The storm started out bad enough on Thursday, Jan. 16, that although the college stayed open, it cautioned those who weren’t within walking distance of campus to stay home.  By mid-morning, though, conditions were worse and expected to stay that way.  The college canceled all classes after 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, and kept them that way through the end of Friday, Jan. 17.

Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011

Making the best of the Groundhog Day “snowpocalypse” of 2011
Making the best of the Groundhog Day “snowpocalypse” of 2011

The “snowpocalypse” of February 1-2 shut down much of the nation, including Hope, with the worst blizzard in more than three decades prompting a rare cancelation for the college.  The 12-plus inches of snow that fell in about as many hours didn’t break spirits, however, and even provided occasion for some singular entertainment as students developed sledding runs in the temporary hills that sprouted, made a snow angel or two, and — Feb. 2 was, after all, Groundhog Day — built a snow cave here and there.

Monday-Wednesday, Jan. 6-8, 2014

A brutal January storm prompted Hope to cancel classes for two days, earning extra distinction for even delaying the start of the spring semester.  Afflicting much of the nation between Saturday, Jan. 4, and Tuesday, Jan. 7, the system pummeled the Midwest with a triad of heavy snowfall, arctic air, and strong winds that limited visibility and delivered extreme wind chills.  Mindful of the safety of students as they returned to campus, Hope postponed the start of classes from Tuesday, Jan. 7, until Thursday, Jan. 9.  Except to serve those who had already started arriving, college offices were also closed on Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 6-7.

Friday-Saturday, Jan. 24-25, 2014

Because of a major storm on Friday, Jan. 24, the college closed offices and canceled classes and all remaining campus activities beginning at noon.  Hope also canceled most activities the next day, Saturday, Jan. 25, including the annual Winter Happening program, arts events and athletic contests.

Thursday-Friday, Jan. 8-9, 2015

Because of a winter storm on Thursday, Jan. 8, the college closed offices at 3 p.m. and canceled classes and all remaining campus activities beginning at 4 p.m.  In addition, Hope offices remained closed and classes and activities were canceled the next day, Friday, Jan. 9.

Monday-Wednesday, Jan. 28-30, 2019

Because of a major storm on Monday, Jan. 28, the college closed offices and canceled classes and activities for the day.  Hope re-opened at the start of Tuesday, Jan. 29, but with the storm continuing (with record-low temperatures courtesy of a “polar vortex”) Hope again closed on Tuesday, Jan. 29, at 3 p.m. and remained closed until Thursday, Jan. 31, at 11 a.m.

As it happened, the storm even had an impact after it ended.  The annual Musical Showcase concert, which was originally scheduled for the evening of Friday, Feb. 1, was postponed to Wednesday, March 13, because of the preparation time lost earlier in the week.

Wednesday-Thursday, Feb. 22-23, 2023

Because of the ice storm predicted to begin at 10 a.m. (which it did) on Wednesday, Feb. 22, Hope announced early in the morning that classes would be canceled and administrative offices closed starting at noon.  With the conditions still being difficult on the morning of Thursday, Feb. 23, the college delayed opening administrative offices until 11 a.m. and delayed classes until noon.

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