Sunday, January 9, 2011

Storm's headaches: School closings, travel woes

The likelihood of heavy snow Monday in the Carolinas is grabbing the headlines, but this storm will be a headache for a number of other reasons.

Three potential problems I see arising:

1. An ice storm across parts of the South, possibly causing thousands (or tens of thousands) of power outages.

2. Travel problems, including air travel.

3. School closing decisions, due to the timing of the snow's arrival in Charlotte.


Ice storm warnings are posted this morning for central and parts of southern Mississippi, and you can expect those warnings to be expanded eastward later today.

It looks as if southern Alabama (although not on the Gulf coast), south-central Georgia and parts of South Carolina's Midlands are most likely to see enough freezing rain to bring down tree limbs and power lines.

In the Charlotte region, the heaviest ice accumulations are forecast, naturally, to the south. Chester County is expected to get a little less than 1/10 of an inch of ice. Typically, anything less than 1/10 of an inch does not cause power outage problems. Normally, it takes 1/4 inch or more for tree and power line troubles.

I've seen forecasts for up to 1/2 inch of ice accumulating in parts of Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.

We can be happy that problem is expected to remain to our south and southwest.


Obviously, highway travel will be a precarious matter through Tuesday in the South and Southeast. This storm will affect these interstate highways: 20, 22, 24, 26, 30, 40, 55, 75, 77, and 85.

But there probably will be air travel problems, too. Some major airports, including hubs such as Atlanta, Memphis and Charlotte, figure to have delays and cancellations, especially on Monday. Some of the smaller airports also will be affected -- Little Rock, Birmingham, Jackson, Columbia, Greenville-Spartanburg.

By Monday, these cancellations could have a ripple effect that causes problems across the eastern United States, even in cities not directly impacted by the storm.

If you're planning to fly later today or Monday, have a backup plan.


Pity the school superintendents who probably will have to decide on canceling classes early Monday -- before the snow ever arrives.

If the storm system continues to behave the way it's predicted to do, the decision on whether or not to close school Monday should be easy. Having 3 to 5 inches of snow fall on highways in the Carolinas means there's no school. But it's a lot easier to make that call when the snow already has arrived.

Incidentally, should this storm produce the snow and sleet that is predicted, there probably will be a lot of school closings Tuesday, too. And the delayed openings could extend into Wednesday.

Temperatures will only reach 32 to 35 degrees Tuesday, so little melting will take place. And with lows in the mid 20s Wednesday morning, the slush would re-freeze.


Anonymous said...

Here is a scoop.....expect CMS to make a decision by 11pm tonight. You heard it here first!

Anonymous said...

As a CMS employee I am not believing they will cancel for tomorrow. Time will tell.

Anonymous said...

CMS should just go ahead and make the call today/tonight to close the schools on Monday.

Just save everyone a lot of doubt and indecision about how to plan for Monday. Save teachers and staff from having to go in, keep the schoolbus drivers home...lots of them have problems driving in normal weather, anyway.

Just stay home and enjoy the day as best you can.

Anonymous said...

As a teacher, it scares me to think that I would have to wait until my last kids are picked up by parents and/or buses (and I'm a school that starts at 9:15, so we would be last). I wasn't here in 2004 (I think that was the year) but my colleagues said it was horrible that year when school closed during the day and kids couldn't be picked up until hours after school had closed. They said driving home was the scariest thing they have ever done with hundreds of accidents.

I hope Dr. Gorman goes ahead and makes it at minimum an optional teacher workday - that way we won't have to worry about ensuring students getting home safely.

Anonymous said...

The only good decisions he has made have been when to call snow, however in the last storm his refusal to try the delay resulted in some terrible accidents.

Anonymous said...

News flash, CMS just called school off...

Anonymous said...

The post at 5:36pm is not reflective of the school system's website. It is ALWAYS on the CMS site and employees (that's me!) always get a phone call.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"News flash, CMS just called school off..."

Where is the source or link to verify your statement?

Anonymous said...

Learning lesson...Re : "News Flash, CMS just called school off" Just because you read it on the internet doesn't make it true...

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