Tuesday, February 10, 2009

School Canceled on Account of Beautiful Weather

The weather forecast predicted a snowstorm for today, so I awoke at 4:30 A.M. to allow myself time to grade a set of quizzes and still have time to snowblow the driveway before needing to get ready for work, drive the girls to school, and make it to my 8:30 A.M. class. I was outside at 6:00 A.M. to discover a lot of snow but an otherwise calm and temperate morning. It was so warm that the bottom layer of snow was slushy, making it heavy and occasionally plugging up the chute through which the snow is thrown. There was a waist-high drift from the front door to the northwest corner of the driveway, so I started there. Two neighbors across the street were out with their snowblowers, too, clearing the concrete of the wet snow before future cold weather could turn it to ice. It was a beautiful morning, and I made good progress.

Then the announcements started coming on the radio, and Susan popped out of the house to relay them to me. School was canceled in several area towns. Makes sense--with so many rural students bussed in to town and so many rural roads inaccessible after a storm, it's common to delay the start of school or even cancel it in those towns on days like today. They're at the mercy of snow plow availability. The majority of Dickinson schools' students, though, live in town, so no need to cancel school here.

Except that was Susan's next announcement. No school for her or the girls! Again (remember?) administrators canceled school on a perfectly beautiful day! After keeping it in session on far worse days--you know, days on which it was actually storming! I don't get it. On the plus side, that enabled all of them to bundle up and come out with shovels to do "cleanup" work, catching the strips of snow left behind by the snowblower and enjoying the lovely morning themselves.

Are you understanding that we had beautiful weather this morning? Is that fact registering with you? Well, it didn't register with DSU administrators who canceled all classes and activities at the university for today! Yep, that was Susan's last major announcement for me; she popped out of the house with a sheet of paper on which she had written in marker "DSU CLOSED" (knowing that I could read better than hear over the noise of the snowblower). As rare as a winter school closing is (or used to be) in ND, a university closing is rarer still. When I was an undergraduate student at UND, the only time it was shut down for winter weather was once when the governor commanded it. And that was because of temperatures around 40 degrees below zero. And the shutdown didn't even happen until late in the day so that I had already been to all my classes that day anyway. So today, with temperatures high enough to melt snow and visibility as far as any day in the summer, we needed to shut down our university? It boggles my mind.

We finished clearing our driveway and sidewalk of snow, and then I--can you guess?--yes, went to work. The snowplows hadn't been out yet (and still haven't), but I just stayed in the ruts of previous drivers (yes, plenty of people were out and about in the beautiful weather that had caused schools and universities to close for the day), drove to my office, and adjusted course schedules to figure out how, in future class sessions, to make up for this lost instructional day. Aargh.

Bright side: Susan felt a "snow day" urge to bake and used some Amish friendship bread starter to bake apple coffee cake, butterscotch bread, and lemon poppy seed bread. Tasty. It would have been an especial treat had the warmth of the freshly baked bread stood in contrast to the cold storminess of the weather. As it was, it was like eating hot food on a summer day. Here's hoping for actual cold temperatures, high winds, and reduced visibility tomorrow so that administrators will leave school in session, and we can get back to normal.


  1. Of course, the nice weather didn't motivate the folks who drive the snowplow to make good progress -- it was very nice outside, but the roads were a mess! Ah...for the good old days in EGF, when the sounds of the snowplows clearing the roads and clogging the ends of driveways would wake us at 2:00 a.m. so everything was cleaned out and driveable by the time people needed to get to work or school...

  2. Here in Omaha, school is either delayed or even cancelled, simply because the temps drop to the single digits! No falling snow is required to make them shut them down! Boggles my mind too!