Wednesday, February 13, 2008


I say that because old time teachers (and weather enthusiasts with a good memory for such things) have told me these kinds of situations used to happen a lot "back in the day." Mrs. Wrenn, a recently retired librarian from my school and a kindred spirit, could recount time after time how districts back then would be opening on time, only to have snow or ice coming down heavy. As the buses arrived at school, they would be told to turn around and take everyone back. There were other times back before the mass media culture of today, when some districts had initially announced a closing, only to change it to delayed or even opening on time. If any of you can recall those situations, it would be fun to hear about what went down. I never experienced that kind of confusion as a kid in school. The closest we ever came to that in suburban Philadelphia was the February 11, 1983 blizzard, incidentally which was a quick 25 years ago this past Monday. That morning, my Mom said, "Well, school is closed." There had been virtually no snow all winter where I lived, and nothing was on the ground. Sure enough as she told me the news, flurries began. Twenty-four hours later, we had at least 2 feet. That single event was the catalyst which launched my weather addiction, uh, er, interest and as you see it continues to this day.

SO WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE LATE CALLS? Except for school staff, many of whom have to drive considerable distances, and parents who now have to do a switcheroo loop-de-loop on their plan for today...I'm sure students are quite happy with the outcome. If you're mad or confused about how this unfolded, here's my theory: When county assessment teams performed their roundup this morning, it seemed reasonable to expect that mostly parking lots and sidewalks would be problematic, but main roads, side streets would be fine. I'll bet when drivers reported to their buses, they discovered melting icicles and a generally improving situation. Given the normal daily flow of traffic, and slowly rising air temps, just the movement of vehicles would help warm pavements. So between 7:00 and 7:30.. buses started rolling. My hypothesis on the deciding factor is that once buses got out into areas not as frequently traveled, back roads, back streets, they started running into much more slippery conditions than were anticipated. I'll bet buses began radioing back to their base station, and the chorus got loud enough that it rose to the decision-makers, which pulled the plug.

Mind you I'm not criticizing the decision, but I am confident that counties did not just randomly decide to wait until 7:30 and then announce a closing. Conditions on the ground apparently had not improved enough, and perhaps air temperatures are not rising as quickly as expected. So as the previous post headlines: Uncertainty did in fact win this time.

For those who don't read the comments, or can't find them..I pulled out some snippets from the previous post for you to enjoy here. Thank you to everyone for supporting the website and posting your observations and reflections. It has been a great 4 years thus far, and I'm sure we'll get to relish in one good snowstorm before the winter is out.

Stephanie said...
I've been reading your blog since last winter and I have enjoyed your take on our unpredictable local weather!I do have to add in a report from Columbia/Howard - I'll be really surprised if schools are just delayed tomorrow. I commute from DC and it took me about 30 minutes to clear the ice off of my car after skating across the parking lot at the train station.We had a nice sheet of ice everywhere at 6-7pm and it rained steadily until at least 9pm. It may have stopped now, I can't tell, but my sidewalk looks even more icy than it was a few hours ago.
February 12, 2008 10:16 PM

Christopher said...
Here's hoping PSU cancels classes tomorrow! 2 of my 4 I would LOVE to miss!!
February 12, 2008 10:46 PM

Prospero said...
Still around 30 here in White Marsh, and the precip just keeps coming. What is it about this week?Russ: I hope you don't lose water (or electricity).Maybe tomorrow we'll get that magic day.
February 12, 2008 10:47 PM

Mr.S said...
AA county Severn at 1130pm - icy as heck!! Our trex deck is a skating rink and all brick and power lines covered . Streets just look wet and we have heard the plows with salt . Hate to say I think it may only be a delay for tomorrow ! Here is to hoping I am wrong !Mr S
February 12, 2008 11:42 PM

ms abbe said...
I've been reading your blog for 3 years now and have also enjoyed it. :) 5:00am and Baltimore County was the first to announce a 2 hour delay! But I hear people sliding around on the roads outside up here in Abingdon. Interesting that even government offices are opening late. Still a possibility for a closing??
February 13, 2008 5:06 AM

bell86 said...
Baltimore County closed...back to bed.
February 13, 2008 7:37 AM

Dave said...
Hello, Mr. Foot.I have spent around two years browsing your blog and checking it nearly daily during the winter months, hoping for even the slightest mention of a delay, closing, snow, ice, or anything else in the Baltimore County area that could lead to me sleeping in.I have decided to make use of the time off to sign up and thank you for giving us a knowledgable and concise yet understandable and basic report of what we can expect in terms of weather.I would also like to congratulate you on correctly predicting the closing and delays of many schools in the surrounding regions.I think that is enough of an introduction for now.Incase anybody missed it, Baltimore County and a few others areas decided to close, thankfully.
February 13, 2008 7:44 AM

snow lover said...
mr foot what is up with the snow that is forecasted for tonight.
February 13, 2008 7:44 AM

Mrs. Burke said...
Fantastic, Harford County follow suit with Baltimore. Let's make it like last year, have off tomorrow, and a delay on Friday . . . that would be awesome. Better yet, off on Friday too so I can leave for my president's day vacation to Luray early!!! The trees are looking mighty bogged down with ice here in Nottingham! It looks like it is raining out there. Also - my husband even has a delayed opening this morning. That should tell you something, because JHU APL hasn't done that since this time last year! Happy sleeping late everyone!
February 13, 2008 7:51 AM

photofreak65 said...
Yeah! We closed. Of course the change was made just as I had awakened my high schooler (she would get on the bus @8:30 in a 2 hr delay) I told her to go back to bed - we are closed. she said, "goodnight". It is an icy mess out there. It's 32 degrees right now. The trees and grass are just beautiful. I want to venture out with the camera, but I'm afaid I'll kill myself - plus it's raining hard. Mr. Foot this is a great site. A friend of yours introduced me to this site last year and I've been hooked ever since. This storm is my first comments though. Ok now this day off officially makes Balto Co have 2 days off and 2 hours. But this is built into the calendar. Keep up the good work! I enjoy reading this.
February 13, 2008 8:05 AM

NeedaSnowday said...
Heya Mr Foot... home safely from ORLANDO, where it was just glorious! And, just like last year... A DAY OFF to rest!! Must be Disney Magic!! :)
February 13, 2008 8:22 AM

Mr.S said...
Well Mr. Foot, you were right! I didn't expect this. My only comments are that AA County was open on time, but AA Gov Offices are closed and on Liberal Leave. There is the confusion between living in one county and working in another! I was up and dressed, and almost ready to leave when I heard the delay got changed to a closing. Well here's to a shortened work week! See you on Thursday. On a side note, sorry to the student from Calvert Hall, noticed no closing/delay for them.
February 13, 2008 8:27 AM

Mr. Foot said...
How weird is this? Welcome back to the 1960's I guess. Thanks for all the nice remarks. I'm going to put your comments in a little followup post. I have a theory on how this came about, so don't go blaming your county systems for a late call. Check back in a few for a quick post on this up above.Side note: I arrived at my children's daycare at 8:15 and they handed me the phone.. school's closed. My first thought was, "so this is what it was like in the 60's." I have been told all kinds of horror stories of schools being open on time, then suddenly closing when the buses were arriving, and even the reverse of that. In fact a few of you may even know those stories, except for Julee...that would have been before her time, (tee hee hee).


Foot's Forecast said...

34 and rain in Dundalk.

Since we have some more free time today... does anyone have knowledge and wisdom about how I can move the comments to top of the post? I've tried to do this in the HTML, settings, layout etc and it does not let me do it. But I look at other blogger sites and they do have comments at the top. Any ideas?

Foot's Forecast said...

Forgot to mention..if you're in Harford, northern Balto or Howard, please report in on what happened out there. Is there any credence to my theory?

terpguy said...

President's Storm, 1961. I'm in Junior High School.

10 AM, an announcement that schools are closing 2 hours early...not a cloud in the sky. 1 PM, you could barley walk to the bus the snow was coming over your loafers.

Skip to the early 80's. I'm teaching at Towosn HS. No warning. It starts snowing about 7 AM. It's sticking like Elmer's glue...they literally waved the buses around the parking lot and told them to go home.

1990's: Berger was our Superintendent. It started snowing, and he was at a breakfast meeting and couldn't see outside. People were so afraid of crossing him, that nobody made the call. He comes out, sees the snow and closes the elementary schools, as high and middle were already in class. Dozens, if not hundreds of kids were left standing at bus stops waiting for rides that never came, with parents off to work, etc.
Great PR from that one.

As of right now (0920) everything in Fallston is covered with a patina of sheer ice. I cannot get to my rain gauge to read it.

miss2780 said...

I'm from Harford County and it is raining and 35 degrees. The main roads are fine, but side streets are still a little slick. The sidewalks and driveways are a skating rink.

crazedsnowboarder said...

everything in the Herford zone is a giant sheet of ice, around 1/4-1/2 inch.

Unknown said...

I'm in Hydes - Northen Balto Co. my driveway is still a sheet of ice. Not going to attempt to go out yet. I'm afraid my car will slide right down into the street. It's 33 degrees here now. The ice is falling off the trees now. The branches that were touching the ground earlier have since gone back to their rightful place.

So what's going to happen tonight? Will we get snow on top of ice?
Does this mean a delay in the A.M.? Would make the day sweet for the kids since it's Valentine's Day and we have parties scheduled. Shortened classes and a party - what a nice day for them.

lsckicks8 said...

I was looking at and the low for tonight in leesburg, va is 26. Is there any chance that all this rain today will just freeze over tonight. Also, what is the possibility of snow for tonight?

Julee said...

"except for Julee ... tee hee hee?"
What are you implying Mr. Foot?

One of my fellow faculty members who lives in Columbia drove all the way to Hereford MS today because the CLOSED call came so late this a.m. THEN had to make the perilous trip BACK. TWO terrible hours of treacherous travel!!!

Still have ice on the trees in Pikesville and for a split second just now, the electricity blipped and made an ominous groaning noise.
Not out of the woods?

Foot's Forecast said...

Yikes! That is terrible for your colleague there, Julee, I'm so sorry she didn't know. I myself stopped checking at 7:15 figuring it was wishcasting at that point.

As for your earlier question..what I'm implying is that either:
1) All Hereford employees are docked 6.5 hours off their sick leave to account for the extra bonus time back on Feb 1.
2) You take one for the whole team by delaying your retirement by an additional year. That is, if they'll LET you retire.

As for the woods, I think they are lovely, dark and deep.. and this storm has many more promises to keep. I think we're in for more icing on the cake tomorrow morning.

I foresee another round of delays and even some closings due to the potential for more bad timing of precip arrival. My early predictions are:

Region-wide 2 hour delays with the caveat that they will reevaluate at 6:45 AM and make the decision earlier and more clear. Temps tonight may fall well below freezing across the area and not break 32 until late morning. Given all this moisture left over and high dewpoints going into the evening, not to mention the likelihood of some snow bursts, I think it is easy to see delays are in the offing. I hate to say it but the timing of tonight/tomorrow AM's snow may even be such that conditions could be as bad Thu AM as they were Wed AM. I have a cool sequence of maps to post from the NWS on what they expect in the 10PM to 4AM period, very telling.

weathertracker said...

The banding has started to the southwest. I hope it expands and fills in. The question is how far west of Baltimore. I am also seeing
development in Eastern Ky, and WV.
If the storm comes a litte farther
north may people will be suprised
for the 3rd morning in a row.