Ready for Spring? YES!
A beautiful, fluffy snowfall can be illuminating and epitomizes “Winter Wonderland.” Ideally, those days can come during winter break; however, Mother Nature does not usually follow our school calendar needs. So, when there is a concerning forecast, what leads to the decision making process?
There are a lot of factors to consider when making weather decisions: temperature, wind chill, wind gusts, the combination of those factors which creates “actual temperature,” precipitation, road conditions, advisories vs. warnings, and even Early Out Fridays can impact the decisions.
There are many factors that alert us to keep a close eye on winter weather conditions and could determine a delay or cancellation:
- -30 degree windchill
- -15 degree air temperature
- Escalated wind gusts that impact the “actual temperature” OR blowing fallen snow
- Combination of air temperature, windchill, and wind gusts
- Weather warnings
- Road conditions
- Snow fall, ice, sleet or precipitation
We try to determine as much as possible as early as possible, but weather and road conditions can change very quickly. One factor, like wind gusts, can impact the other factors, like snow drifts on roads. We use resources like the NOAA and National Weather Service to watch the forecast. When road conditions are concerning, we have team members who drive the roads in the early morning hours to assess road conditions in addition to the state patrol reports and the City/County road teams.
Ultimately, it is a complex process. We try very hard to reach decisions and communicate to families and staff by 5:30 a.m.
Most recently, the following conditions impacted weather decisions. There is not one factor that determined each decision; each day is different:
|January 5, 2022||• Road conditions were the leading concern: wind gusts were high and created snow drifts.|
• Temperature and Windchill were cold, but not at the aforementioned temperatures.
• Road conditions were the leading factor in the decision
|• School Canceled|
• Initially determined a 2 hour delay; roads did not improve and determined a cancellation
|January 7, 2022||• Windchill -28 with combination of -14 temperature. In consultation with the National Weather Service the night before (1/6/22), the forecast was clear. Temperature and windchill was predicted to improve by 8:30 a.m. Determined the weather call the night before.||• 2 hour delay|
|January 14, 2022||• Snowfall predicted to start with scattered/light flurries near noon; heavier snowfall at 3:00 p.m.|
• (The forecast of the time of the snow fall at 10:00 p.m. on 1/13/22 was to start at 2:00 p.m. on 1/14/22. By 5:00 a.m, the forecast changed to snow starting at noon. This is one example why we wait to make decisions in the morning as things can change overnight.)
|• Early out on an already scheduled early out Friday|
|January 21, 2022||• Air temperature -16 at 6:00 a.m. with falling windchill due to increased gusts throughout the morning. -20 windchill at 6:00 a.m. but determined to fall to -28 by 9:00. The combination of air temperature, windchill, and increased gusts created a different cold combination than 1/20/22.|
• When we had a 2 hour delay on 1/7/22, it changed the early out schedule on Friday to a regular dismissal time (the Monday-Thursday dismissal time). This created complications with afternoon transportation staff. (We have experienced many staffing issues throughout the pandemic).
• (1/20/22 had -5 degrees and -21 wind chill with very little wind gusts; therefore, school was on time.)
|• School Canceled|
• A 2 hour delay was an initial consideration for 1/21/22; however, the unpredictable combination of air temp, falling windchill temp, and increasing air gusts WITH staffing concerns for afternoon routes determined the cancellation.
We do understand the frustration and anxiety that comes with trying to predict, “What will tomorrow bring?” We share that experience each time there is anticipated weather. We will continue to do our best to communicate by 5:30 a.m. Please know that the team works hard to consider all of the aforementioned factors keeping safety at the forefront. Additionally, if we can safely keep kids in school, we do our best to do so. We can’t always predict things (like derechos!), but we sincerely appreciate your flexibility and support when we have to delay, dismiss early, or cancel school; that puts a burden on families and schedules–we do not take that lightly and greatly appreciate your support.
Hang in there. Spring Break is just around the corner.
Take care and stay warm,