Oooh, boy...were the second-guessers ever out in full force on Monday. It started when, about 10 minutes after the late-arriving winter storm finally started dropping some flakes around 6 a.m. Monday – around 12 hours after it was supposed to – Crookston School District Superintendent Chris Bates announced that school was going to start two hours late.
“What?! Why not get the kids to school on time and let them out early if it gets bad later?!” seemed be the general reaction.
Then, shortly before 8 a.m., Bates called off classes for the day, continuing a run of a school and activity schedule that have been significantly impacted by winter weather in recent weeks.
“What?! It’s snowing! This is northern Minnesota! It snows! It’s not even windy! No one else is cancelling school!” seemed to be the general reaction.
Bates knows he’ll take heat in situations like this, but it’s clear that he’s going to err on the side of safety. Maybe someone whispered in his ear earlier this winter, when some nasty weather rolled in and Crookston schools seemed to march on without skipping a beat while other schools in the area shortened their day.
This was one of those storm systems that was hyped for at least three days prior to its arrival. When the winter storm watch was upgraded to a winter storm warning, scheduled to be in effect from 6 p.m. Sunday to 6 a.m. Tuesday, there probably wasn’t a student in Crookston’s public schools who thought school would be on time Monday. The same probably goes for parents.
But then, nothing. By 5 a.m. Monday, not a flake had fallen. It was 25 degrees and a pleasant morning. Parents all over town probably accessed the Internet, expecting to see that the storm warning had been downgraded to a winter weather advisory or something. We’d maybe get a couple inches and a little wind, but the storm, many no doubt figured, had not lived up to the hype, or had at least not pushed as far to the east as forecasters envisioned.
But the storm warning was still on. Some dry air low in the atmosphere had kept early snow expected with the system’s arrival at a minimum, the National Weather Service explained, and also prevented the system from pushing into northwestern Minnesota. But, the NWS stated, and the radar backed up, the storm was still coming, and up to 8 inches could still be expected, with winds up to 25 miles an hour to blow it all around into Tuesday morning.
Page 2 of 2 - Beyond the weather geeks among us, however, no one really cares about all that technical stuff. We want to know how much snow’s going to fall, how much wind is going to blow it around, how cold it’s going to get, and if our kids are going to be in school or not. For some, if school is cancelled, it’s a major hassle.
This was a tough one. Maybe the thing to do was to get the kids in school and have as long of a day as possible before sending them home early. But that wreaks just as much havoc with some people’s schedules as starting late does, and what if the weather is far worse when you’re trying to release them later, or after 3 p.m. if you hold a full day of classes?
Bates knows that he can’t win this one. Ever. So he’s going to choose safety first, and roll with the punches that are sure to come.