Extreme Weather

The weather at UBC can be unpredictable—as UBC has it’s own micro-climate which can be quite different from lower-lying areas.

Each department is responsible for setting their own policies and expectations with faculty and staff as it relates to attendance during extreme weather events.

In extreme weather situations, updates on campus conditions, classes or exams are available on ubc.ca.


UBC Building Operations is responsible for managing ice prevention and snow removal on the Vancouver campus. They monitor custom weather feeds to get accurate predictions of what’s coming and work hard to make the campus as safe as possible as soon as possible. Building Operations’ fleet of snow removal and deicing vehicles start early in the morning to plow and treat as many roads as possible before the first students, faculty, and staff arrive.

The Campus Snow and Ice Management Plan allow crews to prioritize work in order to ensure the highest risk areas of campus are open first — places such as the bus loop, hospital, daycares, and arterial roads — before moving onto major pedestrian routes and academic areas, followed by other campus roads.

For more information on ice prevention and snow removal, visit Building Operations.

For information on UBC’s winter weather protocols, visit Human Resources.

Tips to help you stay upright during the winter season

Adjust your gait — Shorten your stride length to keep your centre of gravity supported. Also, walk with your knees slightly bent, as locking your knees reduces your ability to adjust to a slip. When turning to avoid sharp turns.

Slow down — Take slow, deliberate steps and be on the lookout for icy spots. Place your whole foot down at once, shifting your weight slowly to this foot before stepping with the other foot.

Balance your load — Consider donning a backpack. Backpacks keep your load closer to your centre of gravity. Carrying heavy items in your hands hinders your arms’ ability to provide balance when you do slip. You need your arms free to help you recover your balance if you start to slide. Do not walk with your hands in your pockets for this very same reason.

Wear appropriate footwear — Footwear with a thick rubber or non-slip sole is recommended. Avoid wearing heels and footwear with minimal tread.

Entering/exiting your vehicle — Take care when stepping into/out of your car as you are usually off balance and on only one foot. This increases your chance of slipping. Consider carrying a bag of sand in your vehicle that you can sprinkle on the ground before exiting the vehicle.

Snow-covered curbs — Exercise caution around snow-covered curbs on paths and roadways.

Entering/exiting buildings — Entrance ways may be slippery, exercise caution and report any missing floor mats to Building Operations.

Snow removal equipment — Our winter equipment is fully operational during early morning & daytime hours whenever a snowfall occurs. We are requesting staff and students be aware of moving equipment and be cognisant of the potential risk for pedestrians walking in front of and/or behind operating equipment.


High winds can happen without warning and in any season. High winds can blow down trees and branches and cause power outages, road closures, and traffic disruptions. Be prepared to be without power by developing an emergency plan, and putting together your emergency kit.

• Stay safe, warm, dry and calm.
• Avoid driving.
• Go out only if you have to. If you must, dress warmly to prevent frostbite and hypothermia.

Extreme Heat

Your body has to work harder to maintain a normal temperature on hot, humid days. Heatstroke and heat exhaustion can follow and hot temperatures can also worsen existing health conditions. Heat illnesses are preventable. Be sure to drink plenty of cool fluids, especially water, cool down in an air-conditioned building or community pool, slow down as your body can’t function well in high temperatures, wear light-weight, light-coloured, and loose-fitting clothing, and don’t get sunburned — it decreases your body’s ability to cool.

Power Outage

A power outage is a short or long-term loss of electric power to an area. During an extended power outage, you may be without light, heat and hot water. Most power outages will be over almost as soon as they begin, but some can last much longer — up to days or even weeks. Power outages are often caused by freezing rain, sleet storms and/or high winds which damage power lines and equipment. Cold snaps or heat waves can also overload the electric power system.

  • Carefully exit the impacted area.
  • If safe to do so, secure any equipment or materials you are working with before leaving the area (i.e. unplug electrical equipment and turn off computers).
  • Follow emergency lighting to guide you to exits.
  • Use the stairs carefully. Elevators will be unavailable.