Severe Weather

Hazard Overview: 

Given the geography and high elevation, the Burnaby campus is more susceptible to snow and severe weather that can affect campus operations. The Vancouver and Surrey campuses may also experience severe weather events but are not as susceptible to class cancellations.

Know Before You Go

Before you head out to the Burnaby, Vancouver, or Surrey campuses, get the latest information on the statuses and conditions at:  

Severe Weather Events at SFU

In the event of severe weather, the University will rely on reports from Environment Canada, TransLink and observed conditions at each campus to determine if it is safe for the normal operation of university services. Decisions related to class cancellations and campus closures are made by the SFU President as per GP 04 Unscheduled Cancellations of Classes.

Should campus closure be deemed appropriate, communications will be sent to the SFU community through appropriate SFU Alerts channels. Be sure to download the SFU snap app on your mobile device and enable push notifications.

For the most current updates on class and campus status updates follow and @SFU on Twitter. Should extreme weather be forecasted, updates will be provided on these channels by 6:30am.

During severe weather on campus:

  • Follow, Twitter @SFU, and the Campus Snow Report page for updated information. Visit the SFU Road Report for the status of roads.
  • Delay your commute and wait in a warm place on campus until conditions improve and crews prepare roads for safe travel.
  • Follow directions from traffic control staff that may be assisting with the controlled release of traffic from the parking lots and roadways. Drivers may be subjected to delays while roads are being cleared.
  • When walking on campus use indoor routes and main access paths.
  • Don’t put yourself or others at risk by walking down the mountain or calling someone to come pick you up.
  • Follow @SFU on Twitter and the Campus Snow Report page for information on available amenities including food, drink, and indoor accommodation on campus during closures.
  • Should conditions dictate that individuals will need to remain on campus overnight or for prolonged periods, essential functions such as dining services will be available.
  • Should you be stranded at Vancouver or Surrey campuses, visit the Campus Security kiosks to access warming shelter locations until transportation services resume operation.

If you have mobility concerns, be familiar with the priority routes for disabled access.  See map of priority ramp routes during a severe weather event.

Human Resource Guidelines

In the event that severe weather affects campus operations, follow the HR guidelines for SFU staff here.

Winter Safety

  • Dress appropriately for the weather.
  • Choose main access paths when walking on campus and use indoor travel routes as much as possible.
  • Hold on to railings when using stairs.
  • Build emergency kits for your home, office, and car.
  • Make back-up plans and emergency plans for childcare, elder care, and pet care.
  • Remember your medication needs and carry enough for at least 24 hours.
  • Attend Winterfest, an event held annually each November to encourage winter preparedness.


  • DON’T walk down Burnaby Mountain— it puts you and others at risk.
  • DON’T call someone to come pick you up.
  • DON’T drive in a non-winterized vehicle during snowy weather, particularly if you are not experienced with driving on slippery roads.

Winter Driving

  • Winterize your vehicle and store an emergency kit in your car.
    For more info see tips from Shift into Winter.
  • Stay Alert: Check weather and road conditions along your route before traveling and be aware of your surroundings
  • Slow Down: Especially before curves and corners and DON’T tailgate. Leave a large gap between you and the driver in front of you. Four seconds of travel time between cars is recommended
  • Stay in Control: Turn off cruise control and be sensitive to the condition of the road and how your car moves. 
  • Do not travel on less than half a tank of gas in case you encounter traffic or need to keep the vehicle running for warmth.

Tips to Avoid Slips

  • Use caution when navigating the campus. Melting during the day and refreezing at night increases the risk of slips and falls.
  • Stay on main pedestrian routes. Refer to this map to identify the priority areas for snow clearing and salting walkways. This includes all exit/ entry points to parking and bus locations.
  • Use the nearest building entry from your point of arrival and use internal routes when possible.
  • Avoid stairs and walkways that have not been cleared or salted. Though Facilities Services crews work around the clock to keep up with icing issues, not all areas can be maintained at once.  
  • Wear appropriate winter footwear.
  • Do the penguin shuffle! Walk slowly and take small steps.
  • Use available handrails.
  • Keep both hands free for balance, rather than in your pockets.
  • Avoid carrying heavy loads or loads that obstruct your view.
  • Avoid distracted walking. Don't use your cell phone while walking.