snow days

Thought of the (Snow) Day – 2/4/2015

With snow continuing to fall in beautiful Lincoln, NE, today is the second snow day of the week for local students of public and parochial schools.  But it raises the question:

Do home-schooled kids get snow days too?

When the snow flies, do they get a one-day reprieve from tests and homework?  Do they get to hang out in their jammies and watch The Price is Right* the way we did when we were growing up?  Or is it just another day for them?

*Even if The Price is Right is just not the same with Drew Carey.

Regardless of how one feels about the pros and cons of home school, I would hope those kids get to experience the unbridled optimism that a few flakes of snow can lead to instant vacation, as well as the Christmas morning-like excitement that comes from hearing/seeing your school’s name followed by the word “CLOSED”.

Don’t You Need Snow For A Snow Day?

The big news in Lincoln is Winter Storm Q*, which is expected to dump anywhere from 6 inches to 14 feet of snow over much of the Midwest.  The doomsday predictions of the storm have coming all week, and are so severe that Jim Cantore from The Weather Channel is in town (as I saw on Facebook this morning, Cantore doesn’t show up to admire your sunny days).

*What is the deal with naming winter snow storms?  Was some land-locked meteorologist feeling left out by the names given to hurricanes?  And worse yet is the choice of “Q”.  I have two issues with Q:  1) If you can’t pop for an entire name (Quincy, Quantavius, Quentin) then don’t bother with a single letter, and 2) Many Lincolnites associate the name “Q” with a downtown gay bar (not that there’s anything wrong with that).  Unless the Q Bar is sponsoring the storm – and really, how far off are we from selling the naming rights to weather events? – let’s skip the names.

The snow was supposed to start falling Wednesday night, and continue all day Thursday.  So it made sense that Lincoln Public Schools called off classes for Thursday, which sets off a domino effect of parochial schools, small towns, daycare centers, and businesses closing too.  Heck, even the University of Nebraska called off classes, which is a rarity*.

*During my 4.5 years at UNL, classes were only called off once – for the Blizzard of 1997 – when Lincoln got 12-15 inches of heavy, wet snow that downed trees and left thousands without power for days.  That, my friends, was a storm worthy of a name.

When I went to bed last night, I peeked out the window, and was somewhat surprised to see that it had not started snowing yet.  No biggie – I set my alarm a little earlier, knowing that I’d be shoveling the driveway in the morning.

Morning came and….still no snow.  Seriously.  Not a flake. I got the kids ready for daycare and we set off on the nearly deserted streets.

As you might guess, there is a significant amount of grumbling going on about the decision to close schools before a single flake falls.  Many people (myself included) remember trudging to and from school during heavy Nebraska snows, with a snow day being an unexpected treat – not a foregone conclusion.  I read several of my friends griping about the decision, and what calling a snow day with no snow falling says about our culture and toughness.

But ultimately, I think they made the right decision.

Yes, the first flakes did not start falling until a little after 10 am, and as I type this (1 pm) there is maybe 2 inches of accumulation.  Surely, LPS could have gotten in a partial day; monitoring the weather and dismissing classes when the snow started to pile up, right?

Wrong.

Setting aside the inconsistent-to-poor snow removal in Lincoln, the general inability of Lincoln drivers to deal with snowy roads, and the logistics of thousands of working parents trying to get out of work to get their kids home – and believe me, these are all incredibly valid concerns individually – there is still one key reason why LPS made the right call:

As parents, and as a community, we entrust the safety and welfare of our children to their hands.  We count on our schools to keep them safe from all sorts of danger while they are there, and a winter snow storm/blizzard is definitely one of those things.  Believe it or not, some kids still walk to and from school all by themselves.  Do you want your kid, or your neighbor’s kid out walking around today?

I appreciate that LPS was in a true no-win situation.  If they don’t cancel classes and Lincoln gets socked by a foot of snow and/or some cute little kid gets hurt walking home then they never hear the end of it for failing to plan for a storm that we’ve known about for days.  If they do cancel school and the storm turns out to be a minor dusting (leaving poor Jim Cantore pouting in his parka), then they are the administration who cries “wolf!” and is failing to educate our kids.

I think Lincoln got it right.  Yeah, it was a little awkward this morning when it was not snowing, but their simple act helped avoid a lot of risk and kept kids safe.

And in a post-Newtown world, that is what our schools should be doing.

Snowmaggedon

Local meteorologists (and Pennsylvannia-based rodents) are predicting a big winter storm this weekend.  Forecasts are calling for anywhere from 1 to 20 inches of snow, which means the storm could be the snowpacolypse or a snow-show.  The radio is describing the storm as “snowmaggedon”, although when a storm receives this much hype it turns out to be snow big deal.

Right now, it is just raining, which I guess could be considered the snowverture to the actual storm.  I have heard of a weather phenomina known as “thunder snow” (which is exactly what you think it is), but is there such a thing as a snownado?  Or a snowicane?  Or a snownami?  If the wind picks up, we could have a raging infersnow (aka a blizzard) causing hazzardous driving with snow visibility.

If it snows enough, the city might declare a Snow Emergency, which means there is snow parking on some streets so the snow plows can remove said snow.  Everyone is expected to snowbey the law, otherwise your car may be towed – or worse, snowed in.

Since it is the weekend, schools won’t have to worry about snow days, but don’t be surprised if some place are not snowpen for business.  Should anybody die as a result of the storm, we can read their snowbituary in the paper.

Is all of this a snowverreaction?  I don’t snow.  I think it is best to be snowverly cautious, without going snowverboard.  That is my personal snowpinion.

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