We at GSD are a little new at Hurricane cancellations--Irene didn't really give us a chance to practice last year--but we did lay out the possibility of today's (Monday's) scenario a few days ago (see scenario #3). Granted, we're were off by 24 hours and we didn't really see #3 as that viable, but that's because we did not foresee the impact of the Governor of the Commonwealth.
[For the record, we're not going to put the Governor on the Confidence Meter. He (or a future she) may step in from time to time, but if he calls for a State of Emergency for snow, you can pretty much guarantee the GSD Staff will have predicted a snow day by then.]
Yesterday's turn of events is a big reminder that cancellations often--and this may sound a little strange--have very little to do with the weather. The reason nearly every student from kindergarten through college is sitting at home today twiddling his or her thumbs (thumb-twiddling is still the time-honored way to fritter away hours of boredom) is because of the weather hype machine and the governor. Any one who half understands an image from Doppler radar could have told you it wasn't going to be raining or windy when we woke up on Monday in the Berkshires. The flood watch isn't in effect until noon (cautiously premature) and the high wind warning doesn't kick in until 9:00 am (again, ridiculously early). Without question, schools in Massachusetts could have gotten in at least a half day.
But the head honcho of the state made his decree and every superintendent had to live with it. You'll notice no such declaration came out of the mouth of Gov. Cuomo, and that's the reason very few New York schools were scrolling across your television screen while you were trying to watch the Sunday night football game. Since last night many schools in NY have decided to pull the plug early, which is the much more prudent call, and the one that would have made sense for the Berkshires if the Governor had actually looked at a weather map.
The GSD Staff is flat out skeptical about this storm. Already our predicted sustained winds are down into the 30 and 40 mph range, but the gusts in higher terrains could get to 75 mph, or so say the folks at NOAA. We think winds will be in that 25 to 30 mph range, and we might see a gust up to 55 mph. Is this wind speed enough to knock out power? Yes, but it seems unlikely that the entire County is going to be in the dark this afternoon and tonight.
Which brings us to today's pressing question: Are we going to have school tomorrow? Because of the slow-moving nature of this storm and the fact that it is still intensifying off the coast of Delaware and New Jersey, we don't see any reason why the Governor would lift the State of Emergency before noon tomorrow. There's also a little time left for the weather hype machine to jack up more hysteria. And once one or two good wind gusts rattle the windows at Superintendents' houses, you know the terrifying effect that's going to have. So, yes, we're in for a strong 80% chance of a cancellation right out of the gate. [editor's note: Adams/Cheshire, North Adams, and MCLA have already cancelled for Tuesday and did so on Sunday.]
Go outside, get some shopping done, get a few more groceries if it makes you feel better. The rain and wind are coming but not for several more hours, which is when you'll hear from us again. By all means be safe, but you should be able to go about your business until at least midday if not the mid-afternoon.