Sunday, January 29, 2012

Week of 1.3.12: Big Storms Looming?

Well...we survived another week of winter without a snow day or delay (except for Central Berkshire). Sadly, people seem to be getting used to this winter without snow.

The question has come up many times in the last week: has there ever been a school year without a snow day? It's an excellent question, and our deep dive into the GSD Archives has produced very little conclusive information. In the past certain districts were legendary for staying open through the worst of it and certain districts would close when meteorologists merely mentioned the word snow, so definitely certain schools have had no closures in the last 30 years because of a stubborn and mean superintendent.

Historically, going back to the early 20th century all the way up through the 1950s, school delays and closures were less frequent. You either got to school or you didn't, but school was open. As we moved into the 1960s and 1970s, three factors increased the number of snow days and delays: 1) Regionalization of school districts; 2) Federally imposed busing regulations; 3) Increased litigation.

As teachers and students had to drive longer distances to get to a regional school, poor weather would make it harder for schools to operate with depleted staffing and students, so more closures began to happen. As our society became more litigious, schools were gun-shy and legally could not put students in unsafe driving conditions by making them get to school, again increasing the number of snow days.

Our best guess at the year without a snow day is 1913, when a mere 13.8 inches fell for the entire winter in the Albany area. We definitely would say that the odds of a year without a snow day are 1 in 100--so perhaps this is the year for a winter without a snow day. We're going to dig a little deeper to see how accurate this information is, but that's our answer to the question...for now.

Officially, the GSD Staff thinks that the big one is coming, and it may even be right around the corner. We're getting excellent information from the computer models suggesting some kind of big event for the end of the week (perhaps on Friday but maybe on Saturday) or early next week (Monday after the Superbowl--which should be a national holiday anyway). Here's what our long-term forecaster Alex Sosnowski from Accuweather has to say:

Indications are this storm will try to bring formidably cold air in its wake starting next weekend for the Midwest and Northeast. In turn, this could pave the way for future, snowier storms in the region.

Expect to see some flurry activity on Sunday and then a warm-up for the middle of the week. There also is a good chance of rain on Tuesday or Wednesday. Then, we'll have to wait and see what track our storm takes for the end of the week. It could definitely head out to sea, but change is in the air and February could make up for a dismal January.

Check in throughout the week!

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