Lots of snow and closures in the Northeast

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite captured a picture of the monster nor’easter, a winter storm that dumped more than a foot of snow on the Baltimore area and caused the cancellation of about 80 percent of the flights at Baltimore Washington International Airport between yesterday and today.

Earth from NOAA GOES East Satellite (NASA Goddard Photo and Video/Flickr)

Turning from the awe-inspiring to the scary, we note that a second wave of precipitation is expected tonight, and many schools have already announced closures for Friday.

“The next wave of snow, as well as thunder and lightning, has hit some areas, so drivers should remain alert for changing conditions,” Maryland Department of Transportation Administrator Melinda B Peters said in a news release. “Delaying travel is the best way to avoid being stranded. Many drivers heeded the warning and that has helped [the State Highway Administration] with its operations. However, crews will work … through the night.”

The Baltimore CBS affiliate quoted Gov Martin O’Malley of Maryland as saying, “We’re not out of the woods yet,” referring to the situation at about 11 AM Eastern Standard Time Thursday. “The precipitation’s slowed, we’re expecting another band to swing through the area. … So what we have been marking on our map is the second punch [that] will come through the area.”

NOAA’s National Weather Service warned northeastern residents, who have already been battered by several powerful storms this winter, to prepare for the latest snowstorm, which brought about a foot of snow to the I-95 corridor. “An abundance of Atlantic moisture getting wrapped into the storm will continue to fuel widespread precipitation, which should lift through the mid-Atlantic states and northeast Thursday into Friday,” the agency said in an advisory posted on its website.

At least 17 deaths have been blamed on this storm, most from traffic accidents, the Guardian reported. Hundreds of thousands of homes were also reported to be without power Wednesday.

As for schools and their snow days, some states that have received more than the usual amount of snow this winter are giving teachers more time to prepare students for standardized tests that are coming in a few weeks. In Ohio, for instance, State Superintendent Dick Ross gave schools permission to add a week to the testing window, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

“Due to inclement weather, district and school leaders have faced unprecedented challenges as they have made the safety of our boys and girls their top priority. However, they have expressed concern about missed instructional time and the need to prepare students for the assessments,” he said in a release. “We feel it is important to provide educational leaders with flexibility regarding the assessments. Therefore, we are extending by one week the spring testing window for Ohio schools. This … will benefit students and teachers.”

But not all schoolchildren are so lucky: some even had school today. Parents in New York City dragged their kids to school through snow and ice this morning, as Mayor Bill de Blasio decided to keep the schools open even as the governor declared a state of emergency. Some parents were creative about getting their kids to school, as this New York Times video shows, but not everyone was happy about the mayor’s decision to keep schools open.

Defending his decision to keep the schools open, Mr De Blasio said closing schools isn’t a decision he takes lightly, and besides, New Yorkers are tough. “New Yorkers handle these challenges with a lot of fortitude and a lot of strength, and people went to work today, like usual, all over this city,” he said at a news conference. “Unlike certain other cities in this country, we don’t shut down in the face of some adversity.”

NOAA’s GOES Satellites, one of which shot the picture above, are in geostationary orbit, meaning they remain over the same spot on Earth all the time—their orbital velocity matches the Earth’s rotational speed.

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Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

1 Comment on "Lots of snow and closures in the Northeast"

  1. Chicago has already spent so much on snow removal this winter that it has exhausted a snow-removal fund that was supposed to last until the beginning of next winter, the Chicago Sun-Time reports.

    “This is the snowiest winter in 35 years — worst since the blizzard of 1979 — and is the seventh-snowiest in history,” the paper quoted Kelley Quinn, a spokesperson for the city’s Office of Budget and Management, as saying.

    Chicago Public Schools, the nation’s third-largest school district, has already announced that because school was canceled due to snow or extreme cold on January 6, 7, 27 and 28, students will have to extend their school year beyond the planned June 10 date. Schools will use June 11, 12, and 13, as well as March 28, originally scheduled as a day off for students, as make-up days.

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