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When freezing rain occurs, its effects are most often felt on roads and homes. However, this weather pattern may also cause a problem for students using Texas Tech’s Commuter West parking lot.

As temperatures drop and approach freezing, ice may form on the KTTZ radio tower located in the Commuter West parking lot.

In the event ice forms on the tower, it is standard procedure to close the lots surrounding the tower, Stacy Stockard, Tech Transportation and Parking Services media relations coordinator, said.

The closing of lots C-14, C-15 and C-16 was implemented when students first reported ice damaging windshields and roofs of vehicles parked near the tower, Stockard said. Portions of lot R-30 are also closed.

Students should avoid walking through coned-off areas when this freezing happens, Stockard said. They can turn on TechAlert! Notifications to receive information regarding the lot.

“We know it can be frustrating on those days, but we want to make sure everybody is safe,” she said.

When weather reports indicating a freeze are given to TPS, Stockard said the department has spotters keep an eye on the tower until the amount of ice on it is no longer a threat to students or vehicles.  

Typically, freezing rain occurs in Lubbock five or six times a year, Mark Conder, science and operations officer for the National Weather Service of Lubbock, said.

Usually, the weather service can identify the weather systems coming towards Lubbock a week in advance, Conder said. However, forecasters cannot tell if freezing rain will happen until a few days before.

“Once it’s within a few days, we can say, ‘Hey, this’ll either be rain or freezing rain,’” he said.

On average, Conder said winter storms in Lubbock last less than a day, but the height of the tower means ice can stay on it until the ground temperature is above 35 degrees.

When freezing rain occurs in Lubbock, a semi-arid area, it is typically because common cold fronts from the north mix with moisture from storm systems moving in from the south, Conder said.

The National Weather Service of Lubbock also works with Tech to make sure athletic events are hosted in appropriate weather, Conder said.

In addition to regular parking and athletic events, the ice on the tower could affect other parts of campus, such as KTTZ.

“The broadcast equipment is designed to work in all weather conditions, so the amount of ice in Lubbock doesn’t really affect it,” Ron Trice, KTTZ Director of Engineering, said. “We are notified when the parking is being closed but are not included in the decision.”

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