USM Public Safety

Weather Delays and Cancellations

The information below provides details around the University of Southern Maine’s (USM) approach to opening delays, cancellations, or closures due to inclement weather at our Gorham, Portland and Lewiston-Auburn campuses.

Class time at the university level is valuable, therefore any interruptions to class scheduling due to inclement weather are considered carefully.

For storms projected to begin in the evening or early morning hours, the decision to close is made by 6 a.m., earlier if possible. For storms projected to begin mid-morning or later, the decision to close is made 2 hours prior to closing.

Notifications are distributed via the following outlets. Any necessary updates are recorded throughout the day.

Portland, Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn Campuses:

  1. Text Alerts – For the most timely notification of weather-related cancellations or postponements, members of the University of Southern Maine are strongly encouraged to sign up for text and/or email message alerts on the USM Emergency Alerts page
  2. The USM website home page
  3. USM Official Facebook and Twitter platforms
  4. Local media
  5. USM Emergency Information Line: (207) 780-4800.


Since we have three campuses across Central and Southern Maine, and weather conditions can vary greatly, decisions around opening delays, cancellation, or closures due to inclement weather are made independently by the Gorham and Portland campuses and the Lewiston-Auburn campus. However, the processes followed are the same for each.

Many factors influence the decision to delay or cancel classes, including (but not limited to): 

  • The time of day the storm will begin
  • The storm's expected duration
  • The anticipated snow/sleet/rain fall
  • USM's ability to clear the campus roads and walkways
  • The anticipated travel conditions for Androscoggin, Cumberland and York Counties

Many of our students commute from outside Portland, Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn, and weather conditions often vary greatly across Central and Southern Maine.   

In addition to reviewing public weather information sources, a private meteorologist is consulted. Information about local school, government and business closings are also considered as an indication of travel conditions. State and other agencies, including the Turnpike Authority are consulted about road conditions. 

Our foremost concern is the safety of all students, faculty and staff.  Driving skills and the level of comfort one experiences when driving in these conditions also varies. Ultimately, students, faculty and staff must make individual decisions based on their perception of the driving conditions and the specific roads they will travel.

Students are encouraged to use their best judgment regarding their local travel conditions. If USM is open, students are expected to attend their class(es). If unable to attend, students are expected to work out their absence with their professor prior to the class starting. Students are also encouraged to proactively discuss methods of contacting their faculty prior to inclement weather arriving. Discussing options earlier can reduce miscommunication. A detailed listing of professors and their contact information can be found on the Faculty Directory.

If the University has a delayed opening the first Shuttle bus will depart Portland and Gorham one hour prior to the scheduled opening; i.e. if the University is opening at 10 a.m., the first departure time will be 9 a.m. at both locations.

If the University closes at:

NOON, the last bus is 12:30 PM

1:00 PM, the last bus is 2:00 PM

2:00 PM, the last bus is 2:45 PM

3:00 PM, the last bus is 3:25 PM

4:00 PM. the last bus is 4:50 PM

5:00 PM, the last bus is 5:35 PM

6:00 PM, the last bus is 7:00 PM

7:00 PM, the last bus is 7:45 PM

Staffing: Should the university close due to inclement weather, staffing will be kept at appropriate levels in key service areas to ensure the safety of our student.

Any cancellations during the week of final exams will result in exams being rescheduled at a time during the finals week as circumstances allow. In keeping with the Syllabus policy, each course syllabus should state the instructor’s policies regarding scheduling make up exams. Likewise, the instructor may indicate in their syllabus the grading implications for a weather-related final exam cancellation. For the most timely notification of weather-related cancellations or postponements, members of the University of Southern Maine are strongly encouraged to sign up for text and/or email message alerts.

If students have non-negotiable commitments (e.g. religious observations, travel arrangements, or work) that prevent them from taking the exam at the university-mandated rescheduled time, the instructor has discretion in providing a fair and reasonable response. Examples include: Instructor may indicate a different, mutually agreeable time for the exam. Instructors may indicate that they will follow the Incomplete Grade Policy. Instructors may indicate a suitable alternative to the exam as approved by the Department, or they may indicate that the existing grade will stand as the semester-long grade.

In all circumstances, grade reporting must follow the prescribed schedule and be submitted to the Registrar within 7 days of the last day of exams.