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SNOW DAY!
January 28, 2011 6:57 AM   Subscribe

11th grader David Sukhin's Snow Day Calculator uses weather data, user judgment calls, and algorithms of his own devising to predict the chances of a snow day for any school in the US. And, so far, to his knowledge it has never been wrong.
posted by Miko (32 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Damn, no snow day today. Although I might have guessed that from the streams of sunlight coming into my office.

It'll be interesting to try out next time one rolls through Dallas. The schools around here, including my university, tend to be a little trigger happy when it comes to calling snow days. That may be because everyone acts like the apocalypse has come upon us when the white stuff falls.
posted by SNWidget at 7:08 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you set the hype to 3, set the Administration factor to "easy"

I like this kid.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:08 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


If the kid wasn't so secretive, I'd love to see the numbers.

However, something about the whole idea is so fascinating and exciting. Why haven't I always known about this?
posted by Askiba at 7:09 AM on January 28, 2011


After missing half a dozen days this winter, my princess, girly-girl, kindergartner was quite disappointed to learn that make-up days do not involve cosmetics.
posted by I'm Doing the Dishes at 7:20 AM on January 28, 2011 [10 favorites]


What does leniency of administration mean? Does that refer to how likely they are to call it off?
posted by Leezie at 7:22 AM on January 28, 2011


This is really cool!
posted by mareli at 7:23 AM on January 28, 2011


It seems like every 2 or 3 years around here (Athens, GA) we get absolutely shut down by snow and ice for a good 3 or 4 days. We don't have plows or salt trucks, and even during the worst of cold snaps it always gets just warm enough during the day to turn the snow into a thick sheet of ice. And nobody around here (myself included) knows the first thing about driving on icy roads.

We missed so many days at UGA that we're having Saturday school to make up for lost classes.
posted by keratacon at 7:24 AM on January 28, 2011


Most of the time, around here, we don't get snow days. I think I remember approximately 1 from the past few years. Instead, we occasionally get "cold days" when the wind chill drops below -20 or something obscene like that.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:33 AM on January 28, 2011


It's predicting an early dismissal... which would be very very unlikely.
posted by Apoch at 7:38 AM on January 28, 2011


Growing up in Finland I was always jealous of these 'snow-days' I saw on American TV shows. I do remember one time when it was almost -40 degrees and we didn't have to go outside for recess. That was nice.
posted by slimepuppy at 7:39 AM on January 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


After missing half a dozen days this winter, my princess, girly-girl, kindergartner was quite disappointed to learn that make-up days do not involve cosmetics.

One day, my daughter's kindergarten teacher wrote something like this on the board
Remember: No school tomorrow! :)
When she got home, she asked me crabbily "Why did she use a smiley face for something sad?"
posted by DU at 8:18 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, this is awesome. My kids are Mr and Mr Skeptical Thinking about anything I tell them but still wear their pajama pants inside out and put spoons under their pillows to try to make snow days happen (I don't know where those rules came from--I report, you decide).
posted by DU at 8:20 AM on January 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Heh...nifty. During my 9 winters here in Central Montana, I don't recall a single "snow day" ever being called - even with 2 feet of snow and temps of -35.
posted by davidmsc at 8:40 AM on January 28, 2011


After missing half a dozen days this winter, my princess, girly-girl, kindergartner was quite disappointed to learn that make-up days do not involve cosmetics.

In kindergarten we were told that in a couple of days we were going to have a 'fire drill'. And I was so looking forward to what I imagined this would be - drilling holes through the walls to escape.
posted by Flashman at 8:45 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


In kindergarten we were told that in a couple of days we were going to have a 'fire drill'. And I was so looking forward to what I imagined this would be - drilling holes through the walls to escape.
D.W. is afraid of the upcoming fire drill in her preschool, so her family name her a fire warden and run fire drills in their house.
Season 3, Episode 2

Dora Winifred, is that you?
posted by DU at 8:50 AM on January 28, 2011


wear their pajama pants inside out and put spoons under their pillows to try to make snow days happen

I don't know where it comes from either but apparently there is a canonical ruleset. This email went around the 4th grade this week in my town:
___________________________________
If you want it to SNOW tomorrow, do the following tonight, please.
Wear your PJ's inside out and backwards.
Lean a paper plate against your window-sill.(It can be anything that's made out of paper or plastic, if you don't have a paper plate)
Pull a cat's tail.(Not too hard!)
Flush an ice-cube down the toilet.
Put a spoon underneath your pillow.
Make sure you do this so we can have a DELAY or NO SCHOOL!
____________________________________
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:50 AM on January 28, 2011


Oh, my kids didn't know about those other rules. I should tell them--it'll keep them busy. In fact, I should make up my own rules:

IF YOU WANT IT TO SNOW ON A SCHOOL DAY, do the following on the previous day
- your homework
- do not bother your brothers and sisters
- no interrupting
- eat your whole dinner without complaining
- brush teeth thoroughly and go to bed promptly
posted by DU at 8:58 AM on January 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


If the kid wasn't so secretive, I'd love to see the numbers.

This kid has a long career ahead of him running computer football lists for BCS rankings.
posted by norm at 8:59 AM on January 28, 2011


but still wear their pajama pants inside out and put spoons under their pillows to try to make snow days happen

I have a friend who's a NYC school teacher, and even he did those things on Wednesday night. And it worked!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:01 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


But Sukhin said it has never been wrong for him.

It can't be "right" or "wrong"; it doesn't make yes/no predictions. It estimates percentage chances. Its estimates could be statistically be "better" or "worse" predictors of snow days. But any given "There is a 25% chance of a snow day" statement can't be proven right or wrong by a single school-closing decision. That's just not what probabilities are.
posted by grimmelm at 9:13 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


We don't get snow days here in Fairbanks AK---but the entire town (borough/city offices, school district, university) shut down for three days right before thanksgiving this year because it got up to 33 degrees F and rained. It was the strangest thing. So we had a quarter-inch of ice on all the roads.

I've heard that if it really gets cold (say sixty below) something may happen, but it hasn't gotten that cold since I've been here.
posted by leahwrenn at 9:21 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


The anticipation involved with a possible snow day is one of the greatest feelings in the world. I can remember waking up on a morning it was supposed to snow and keeping my eyes closed and saying a little prayer that when I pulled back the curtain, I would see the marshmallow wonderland that heralded the closing of school. That brought pure, unrestricted joy, not just for the thought of those dingy hallways and mean popular kids and angry teacher faces being replaced by a new amazing white world that I was free to play in (or stay inside and watch television all day), but also the satisfaction of being right and having your biggest wish come true. That satisfaction is still unlike any feeling I've ever known, and there are many days here in foggy northern California where I truly miss it.

About 9 years ago, soon after I moved to California, still kind of homesick and lonely for my "old life", there was talk of a storm front that might bring snow to San Francisco. I'm sure they were joking when they said such things, or they exaggerated the area that would be effected, and of course pulling one over on the new girl, "Oh sure, it's snowed here before", "San Francisco will get snow, yeah..." but my heart was so into it, already ensconced in that anticipation, that I convinced myself it was possible to get snow in Mountain View. That night I went to sleep with a smile on my face thinking, Maybe there will be snow tomorrow... maybe I will not have to go to work!!!! Maybe things are not so different here and I am not failing at life.

In the morning I awoke, said my little prayer ohpleaseohpleaseohplease, and excitedly got up to look out the window. Pulling back the blinds, my heart caught in my throat, and I saw the blinding white on the ground of our apartment parking lot. I let out a squeal: "SNOW!" My boyfriend jumped up and looked out as well. Sighing and shaking his head, he said, "No, Sarah, that's just the concrete." I looked at him, then looked back out at the parking lot, and my eyes adjusted, and I saw that what I thought was white snow was actually just the white concrete of the parking lot, reflecting the bright California sun in a perfectly clear sky. I had hallucinated the whole thing. I was devastated. I crumpled back onto the bed and cried.

How do I describe that feeling? That hope can make you see things that aren't there, but hope alone does not bring freedom and satisfaction. Up until the moment my eyes adjusted, I was in heaven. Everything was right with the world. Then it all came crashing down and I realized how ridiculous I had been, and I had tricked myself into believing something so obviously untrue. Snow in Silicon Valley? Please.

That was the day I lost my innocence.
posted by sarahnade at 9:46 AM on January 28, 2011 [11 favorites]


The snow day email sounds like something out of Huck Finn.
posted by shinyshiny at 9:57 AM on January 28, 2011


I'm really fascinated by the snow day superstitions. I had no idea - these definitely did not exist when I was a kid, nor, I'm as sure as I could be, did they exist when I was a teacher in Philadelphia in 1995-1999. That's emerging children's folklore right there. Pretty cool. An NPR story about these rituals.
posted by Miko at 10:15 AM on January 28, 2011


Even during the worst of cold snaps it always gets just warm enough during the day to turn the snow into a thick sheet of ice. And nobody around here (myself included) knows the first thing about driving on icy roads.

Here's the secret Northerners do know: When there's a sheet of ice on the roads, stay off them unless you want to die. Nobody anywhere knows the first thing about driving on icy roads because there is no effective way to do it unless you own some sort of post-apocalyptic spike-enhanced tire chains.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:30 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


As a child, I envied children who lived in cold weather. Not only did you get these mysterious snow days (and how cool is that as a kid!), you also had snowflake designs on your classroom bulletin boards (so did we, but I'd never seen a snowflake and neither had most of my classmates so it just reminded us of the world beyond our reach), and Christmas songs that made sense because it snowed where you live ("Let it snow"? "White Christmas"? Even "Frosty the snowman"!). People who live where it snows make up a lot of Western culture, especially classroom culture, and always being on the outside looking in made me just a little tiny bit bitter.

So I moved to North Dakota. We don't have snow days, we have 'it's -30F before windchill today' and 'man, it's going to be a bitch to get to work in the blowing snow today.'
posted by librarylis at 10:36 AM on January 28, 2011


The anticipation involved with a possible snow day is one of the greatest feelings in the world.

My husband is a school administer. I am now privy to all the behind-the-scenes discussions as they decide whether or not to call a snow day - including the 5 am phone calls and website-updating that happens at the last minute when the storm starts after midnight.

I would love to say that now I know how the decision gets made (not to mention the fact that I haven't been in school for several presidential administrations, so it doesn't affect me at all) would take the magic of snow day announcements away. Not so. For 2-6 days a year, my soulmate is the Great and Powerful Oz, making dreams come true.
posted by Mchelly at 11:58 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


administrator. not administer. ugh.
posted by Mchelly at 11:58 AM on January 28, 2011


This kid is so hip, he uses 1996 web design on his "home page." And totally retro "under construction" gifs to boot! And frames.
posted by salishsea at 12:16 PM on January 28, 2011


Denver: one Snow Day every five years. It has to be snowing heavily at 4AM when the Superintendent makes the call.

Although ten years or so ago it started on a Monday night the week before spring break and snowed every day...creating a two-week spring vacation. It was great. All the kids were out playing in the snow, jumping into huge snowbanks from some of the lower roofs...

But I miss the ice storms of the Midwest/East. You can't drive, sure, but the sun shining through the ice-encrusted trees the next day makes you feel as if you were reborn in the Land of Unicorns and Rainbows.
posted by kozad at 8:44 AM on January 29, 2011


damn, the site is down right when i need it
posted by lakersfan1222 at 12:32 PM on January 31, 2011


I bet the entire Northeastern US is tanking it, collectively.
posted by Miko at 12:34 PM on January 31, 2011


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