Snow days. The best part of winter as a child and the part that can make you scramble for child care and/or fret extended commute times as an adult. If you could predict those snow days, life would be a little bit easier. While there is no way to be 100% accurate in predicting a snow day, there are certainly red flags to watch for that, when presented together, can be a pretty good indicator that a snow day is on the way. In this post, we will take a 10-step approach to the fun-for-the-whole-family activity of predicting a snow day.
Step 1: The Hourly Forecast
If the hourly forecast is predicting snowfall to end by 3:00 a.m., there is a very good chance that snow plows will have time to clear the roads well enough for school buses to run as scheduled. Your best odds of a snow day happening occur when the peak of the storm is hitting between 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 a.m.
You might also get a snow day if the peak of the storm is hitting during normal school day hours. Schools have to account for not only getting kids to school safely, but getting them home from school, as well. If a snow day is not called in the morning, you should keep an early dismissal on your radar.
Another item to watch for is drastic changes in the forecast. If changes to the forecast call for more snow than originally predicted, the odds of a snow day increase. Also consider the amount of accumulation expected. It could snow all night, but if it is a light enough snow that you only get a couple of inches of accumulation, then the odds of a snow day decrease.
Are there any kind of winter weather watches or warnings in effect during the sweet-spot hours? These types of advisories are issued by governmental agencies. If a school is on the fence about calling a snow day, it will often default to the government’s decision regarding the potential hazards of an impending storm and call it.
Ice is just as important as snow when considering a snow day, perhaps even more so. If the storm is bringing freezing rain or if cold temps following a warm up freeze the standing water on the ground, these conditions could make travel even more dangerous than snow accumulations.
Step 2: The Hype Factor
It’s Snowmageddon! It’s Snowzilla! It’s the Snowminator! Sure the national hype would help, but it can be local hype, too. If lots of people are talking about the storm, the odds are that it is going to be legit. Everyone is an amateur meteorologist. If enough people bring their experience to a similar conclusion about a snow day, it will often be right on the money.
Step 3: It’s Who You Know
If you happen to know a school administrator, give him or her a call and find out what the murmurings are. The closer to the decision-maker that person is, the more likely you are to get an accurate answer on the potential of a snow day. That said, sometimes snow day decisions aren’t made until the wee hours of the morning, so you might not always get an answer with this approach… but it’s worth a try!
Don’t underestimate social media either. Many school districts will update their Facebook page or Twitter feed as soon as a decision is made, which is often before the news can cover it or the school can notify parents via a phone call.
Step 4: What Else is Closing?
Are daycares being closed? Events at senior centers? Evening classes at the local college or university? These types of closings are a great predictor of school being closed for inclement weather. After all, if a school administrator is unsure whether to close, an influx of nearby closings may be enough of a push to make the decision to call it.
Step 5: The State of Other Schools
Are other schools in the area calling snow days? If you see a couple of local area school closings, the rest (including yours) can start to fall like dominoes. If you know people who live in other school districts, you can get ahold of them or just watch the ticker at the bottom of your local television network.
Step 6: Social Media
We hinted at this earlier with regards to following your school area’s profiles. That is just the starting point, though. See what people in the surrounding areas are saying about the weather. Local news pages and profiles will often post updates to social media between newscasts. You may not get a solid answer there, but it can help you in discerning the level of hype (Step 2).
Step 7: Snow Day Calculators
Snow day calculators are totally a thing. There are a handful of them online, most of which boast a darn good accuracy rate for predicting snow days. Just enter your zip code, and they look at relevant factors for your area, such as weather conditions and the consistency with which your district calls snow days.
You can even get apps for your mobile devices. Just visit your app store and search for “snow day.” Voila!
Step 8: How Good is Your Local Snow Removal?
Some areas simply get more snow than others and are, therefore, better-prepared for snow removal. For that reason, if you live in an area that doesn’t normally get a lot of snow at once, it might not take a huge storm to bring about a snow day. The timing alone (Step 1) might be enough.
Step 9: Does Your School District Cancel Easily?
Snow days are discretionary decisions. There is no universal set of criteria that determines a snow day. That said, some districts are quick to call snow days even at the risk of the weather not being as bad as predicted. Other school districts are notoriously stingy with snow days, perhaps for fear of make-up days being added at the end of the school year. Having a good idea of where your local school district tends to draw the line will help in your own snow day prediction.
Step 10: Be Prepared for Any Decision
All of the normal school day prep should still be done (e.g., packing lunches, completing homework, setting out clothes, etc.). Further, you should have the names and numbers of people you may need to call in case a snow day is announced (e.g., babysitters, work contacts, etc.). You want to cover all your bases so you are prepared for any decision by the local school district.
If you or someone you know is in need of commercial snow removal services, don’t hesitate to contact us online or give us a call at (517) 990-0110 today!