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WEATHER

PHOTOS: Snowiest College in the US Celebrates With Massive Statues

While it may seem foreign to most colleges in the U.S., it's common to see students snowmobiling and skiing to class at the snowiest college in the U.S., Michigan Technological University. The college celebrates their snow this week in a winter carnival, which takes the place of homecoming.

A student organization called the Blue Key Honor Society helps to plan the winter carnival each year.

"Our university celebrates the snow," Jack Lubinski, president of the Blue Key Honor Society, said. "Back in 1922, something started called winter carnival and people would build snow statues and host events for both the students and the community to celebrate in the snow. It really exemplifies what it means to be part of the community as a student and local as well."

Student groups build statues out of snow as high as 28 feet. Scaffolding is used to ensure student safety for snow statues this tall.

Some of the most memorable statues of the past include a Chinese dragon, large and detailed renditions of Harry Potter, Super Mario Brothers and a cottage that you could walk inside, Lubinski said.

Like most years, the students had plenty of snow to work with on Wednesday night as they pulled an all-nighter to build the statues.

Since September, a total of 140 inches of snow (measured at Hancock Airport) has buried the college town, which is located in Houghton, Mich. The town sits in the Keweenaw Peninsula, which extends from the northern part of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Due to its proximity to Lake Superior, there are frequent rounds of powdery lake-effect snow. The average yearly snowfall is about 207 inches.

The students braved the cold Wednesday night, wearing boots and other gear for protection, as temperatures hovered just above zero degrees Fahrenheit. The AccuWeather RealFeel® temperature plummeted as low as minus 30 F.

Student groups, in conjunction with local charities, served hot chili and hot chocolate and handed out hand warmers. Buildings on campus were open to students to warm up throughout the night.

Broomball, ice hockey and ice bowling are among the other events during Winter Carnival at Michigan Tech.

Lubinski said Alabama-Huntsville, the team coming to play in this year's ice hockey game, may be shocked to see all of the snow.

This winter, the snow began earlier than normal in Houghton and has remained in place for longer, with above-average amounts.

Students have to cope with the snowy climate by waking up early to clear driveways and walkways. Traveling to classes also looks different due to the copious amounts of snow. Students snowmobile, ski or bike to class, including across a frozen canal.

However, locals from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, which call themselves "Yoopers," handle the cold and snow differently from transplants.

"It can be pretty comical to see some of the students coming from out of town that are used to warmer climates, wearing ski goggles and covering their whole face, to protect themselves from the snow and cold weather, when I'm walking around in a light hat and light jacket," Lubinski joked. "It really shows the difference in people and how they handle the weather differently."