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Posted at 10:20 AM ET, 02/10/2011

Trace to 1" dusts region, some schools close

By Jason Samenow

Were closings justified?

Snowfall during the evening of February 9, 2011. Source: National Weather Service

Light snow and flurries last night generally produced the dusting to half inch predicted by the Capital Weather Gang. Inside the beltway, amounts were generally around 0.1", with just a trace for most spots north of Montgomery county. However, in some spots mainly east, southeast and south of town, snow amounts exceeded expectations - totaling 0.5-1".

Here are some of the highest totals aggregated by the National Weather Service:

1" Saint Charles (Charles county)
1" Waldorf (Charles county)
1" Prince Frederick (Calvert county)
1" Gainesville (Prince William county)
0.8" Centreville (Fairfax county)
0.8" Remington (Fauquier county)
0.8" Fredericksburg (Spotsylvania county)
0.7" Huntington (Calvert county)
0.7" Brandywine (Prince George's county)
0.6" Stafford (Stafford county)
0.5" Leonardtown (St. Mary's county)

In these areas, this amount of snow was enough to cause problems on roadways last night. There were many reports of snow-covered roads and accidents, especially in Calvert and southern Prince George's counties. It was little surprise that a number of these counties delayed the opening of schools. However, it came as a shock to some that Fauquier, Spotsylvania, Stafford and Prince William county schools decided to close for generally less than one inch of snow.

Howard Bernstein, meteorologist at WUSA-TV9, heard from a number of viewers surprised about the closings. He posted some opinions on his blog and offered the following commentary:

I hear from people who are also upset when schools get closed because they have to scramble to figure out child care or in some cases they can't get to work and actually lose a day's wages.
I'm all for being safe and not putting our kids in harm's way, but it seems to me that many schools around here close rather easily.

What do you think? Did conditions justify closing school in Stafford, Prince William, Fauquier and Spotsylvania counties?

By Jason Samenow  | February 10, 2011; 10:20 AM ET
Categories:  Links, Recaps, Winter Storms  
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Really... Schools close for less than an inch. I could see a delay... but a closing, no way. This is why our friends up in New York and Boston laugh at us during the winter.

Posted by: cubscapsfan | February 10, 2011 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Agree with Howard here. Seems like a delay would have sufficed.

Posted by: ThinkSpring | February 10, 2011 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Oh, forgot to mention this in last post. Sorry.

These closings keep the streak going for at least one area school system missing school for snow/ice. Been a while since every major school system in the area has gone the whole week.

Posted by: ThinkSpring | February 10, 2011 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I live in rural Faquier. At 9:00 a.m. our road was snow covered, not treated with anything, and it was 22 degrees out. A two hour delay means there are kids getting on the bus at 8:00 a.m.(buses leave the garage well before that) when the sun is still pretty low in the sky and not hitting pavement in many areas. That's not to say that buses couldn't have made it but what official wants to risk it? Glad I don't have to make that call.

Posted by: mudbucket | February 10, 2011 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I'm in Charles County. We got about an inch, and schools were delayed for two hours. I think the school call was justified. What I found appalling is that major roads were completely untreated. I don’t mind if the podunk roads around my house are untreated for an inch of snow – I understand that. But when a highway has such slippery conditions after so little snow, it’s unacceptable.

Posted by: FrozenTundraTransplant | February 10, 2011 10:49 AM | Report abuse

it took a blizzard to close schools for the first time in 12 years up in Chicago. and we close for less than an inch? absurd doesn't even begin to explain it.

Posted by: m114b | February 10, 2011 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Well somebody in the MD/PG highway departments got the word after the issues last night and during SnowJam (get over the "geddon" moniker guys)......when I drove in this morning the roads were clear except for the billowing clouds of salt dust created by passing cars!

Posted by: ftwash | February 10, 2011 11:05 AM | Report abuse

This morning I saw no difference between road conditions in Fairfax county (opened on time) & PWC (closed).
Granted I didn't drive all over but it does seem strange.
Lots of coworkers complaining about very bad road conditions in Northern VA last night. Moderate snow came in fast, seemed to catch those who plan for road treatments by surprise.

It probably didn't help that apparently some local big name TV mets downplayed the idea of any accumulating snow.
As proven time & time again, it doesn't take much snow to get us into trouble. Err on the side of safety & keep those big lumbering school buses off the roads....keep the kids in school until the 4th of July.

Posted by: FIREDRAGON47 | February 10, 2011 11:19 AM | Report abuse

"Err on the side of safety & keep those big lumbering school buses off the roads....keep the kids in school until the 4th of July."

If schools continue to close for a trace to one inch (max) of snow, then your suggestion may become reality as they try to make up all the lost time!

I don't know the precise road conditions of the named counties, but it seems that absent any significant icing a delay of an hour of two, tops, should have been enough. And didn't we all learn the lesson about pre-treating the roads two weeks ago?

Posted by: mkarns | February 10, 2011 11:41 AM | Report abuse

**hour OR two

Posted by: mkarns | February 10, 2011 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I live in Spotsylvania County and the closing was completely uncalled for. The roads were not bad at 6am so I would assume by 8 they would be clear or okay have a 2 hr Delay. But they close the schools to fast down here. Now I am lucky I have very dependable before/after care that is open when the schools over react. But what about the Parents that don't. This was another EPIC Fail by the schools. These kids already are going to school tomorrow and the 21st as make up days and now they will have to make this one up to.

How many snow days have we had this year alone?

Posted by: TR_80 | February 10, 2011 11:50 AM | Report abuse

It is completely ridiculous that some school systems closed today. This just cements the idea that we are weather wimps around here...and it's getting worse each year. Because the schools closed, half the employees at my company didn't show up today. The people who somehow miraculously made it here thru "dust" on the road and sidewalks are now having to do their own jobs plus the missing people's jobs. If I sound bitter it's because I'm one of those people having to the extra work. And don't say "Don't worry, the kids will have to make it up at the end of the year" no they won't. They will ask for a waiver from the state and get it and our kids will get stupider and stupider due to spending half their winter at home instead of at school. And for a dusting of snow??? Please.

Posted by: rwalker66 | February 10, 2011 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Was there more snow in North Carolina???

This was supposed to be THEIR storm not ours.

Closing of school for this dusting seems to be a bit out of line, though one or two individual schools might have experienced power outages...which can close schools even when there's no storm around. It also gets me when a few schools close when it's too hot in late May or early June because they were built without air conditioning. If you are going to start school before Labor Day or end after Memorial Day around here, it makes sense to build an adequate HVAC system into the school!

Posted by: Bombo47jea | February 10, 2011 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for participating and weighing-in, all. I know it is a tough call for many school systems to balance attendance days/teaching hours with the safety of their students--along with the school buses that don't have the best traction with such high center-of-gravity challenges...

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | February 10, 2011 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Well all I know is I live one block from a school and this morning Lake Ridge (Westview Ridge specifically)in Woodbridge was a sheet of ice in front, around and entry into this subdivision. NOT ONE SPECK OF SALT anywhere! Cars couldn't make it out of the main road and were slipping all over the place. So I can see a delay but not sure about complete closures.

Posted by: wroberts1970 | February 10, 2011 3:46 PM | Report abuse

I live in PG County and I disagree with the 2 hour delays and all of the closures. PG County looked great with no ice and moving dust. Stop delaying the schools over dust because you are taking learning time away from our children. My child has been out of school so many times this year that I can probably count more so on my hands how many times they have spend a full week in school verses how many days they have been off. *Shaking my head* Please stop the madness! I'm a strong advocate of safety, but what exactly are you providing safety for the chicks trying to walk across the street.

Posted by: NikkiP2 | February 10, 2011 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Notice a pattern they were ALL VIRGINA SCHOOL DISTRICTS!

Posted by: bobby20 | February 10, 2011 5:24 PM | Report abuse

NikkiP2- I'm a Prince Georges County resident as well, and had about an inch of snow fall in my area. As I live in the southern part of the county, I can tell you it definitely wasn't a trace and there was ice on the side streets. Understand that when the schools make the decision to delay or close, there aren't looking specifically outside of YOUR door. It is a county-wide decision and the thought is to be safe, than sorry.

Posted by: Downtown2 | February 10, 2011 5:53 PM | Report abuse

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