Snow Days

(Disclaimer: I wrote this on a much colder day, before my Internet went down... now that it's back up, of course it's 60 degrees in January in NYC. Oh well, I'm going to post it anyway.)

Living in the northeast gives me an opportunity to remember some of the most exciting winter days of my youth... snow days. Growing up in the deep south, these wondrous days occurred once a year, on average. And they always included a complicated dance... from the weather person braving the cold as he/she reported from main street, to the scroll across the bottom of the television screen announcing school closings, to the rush to buy bread and milk before the storm set in and in effect, stranded everyone at home. Snow days were a true event.

We'd eagerly wait as the TV or radio listed the countless counties in our area until they came to ours. We'd cheer. And, then being the paranoid type that I am, I'd wait for them to go through the whole list again just so I could double-check that I'd heard correctly. Then back to bed, but of course you can't sleep because of the excitement.

The longest snow day we ever had was when I was in fifth grade. It lasted seven school days. It snowed about 18-20 inches on a Wednesday night. So, we had Thursday and Friday off... yeah, 4-day weekend! I was even able to create a snowman by rolling a snowball down a hill like they do in cartoons. Then, we had the ENTIRE next week off, so much overkill that by the following Friday the roads in our area were only wet. There was no ice nor wilting snowmen in sight. And because of the days off, we had no spring break that year. Snow days lost a little of their luster after that.

The amazing thing about the northeast is that they have snow days too. I had grown up believing it was a uniquely-southern thing, brought on by the fact that's it's too expensive for the state to own its own rarely-used snow plows, so it was just better to close school and wait for the ice to melt. That makes me wonder, do they have snow days elsewhere... in the midwest or the west?

sandie, Jan 31 2006 1:03PM

We had snow days in Minnesota, but not very often. As I remember, at least 10-12 inches was required. And sometimes they would cancel school if the wind chill factor was -20 degrees or more so kids wouldn't turn into ice cubes as they waited for the bus. On snow days we would shovel out and then usually go skiing or sledding.

mark, Feb 1 2006 9:37AM

we had snow days in connecticut; but they were few. more likely we had a delayed opening which really didn't get me much more sleep since i had to get up early to learn about it.

the other (demonic) option was the short-day schedule. each class was shortened by 12 minutes thereby letting you out early if an afternoon storm was brewing.

Shari, Feb 1 2006 12:16PM

heather, we actually had a snow day in Denver last year. We had a quick dumping of school...and then it was pretty much melted by the next afternoon (typical for Denver--higher elevation). It's funny because it snowed a good deal when we were in Boulder but we never had any snow days. I think the closing of the school in Denver was a fluke...public schools shut down and my school followed. This was a LONG answer to your question. Yes, the West does have snow days albeit infrequently.

Rusty, Feb 2 2006 1:30PM

In Tennessee, they shut down if it snows in the surrounding states. There have been two or three school closing days this school year, and I have yet to see more than a dusting of snow on any of those days. To give the schools a little credit, snow does tend to be a little different around here. Because of the warmer temperatures, when we get snow the roads often turn to sheets of black ice. It isn't a powdery snow that is simple to navigate in.

On a side note, one of the local news networks has used what they call "The Snow Bird Report" for school closings since I was a little kid. Funny thing is, they use it for any school closing. Plumbing issues at your school? Snow Bird Report. Tornado damage? Snow Bird Report. School taken over by evil doers? Snow Bird Report...