Cancellations, late starts and early dismissals have been a weekly occurrence this winter for most Iowa school district. It’s a decision school administrators don’t take lightly. Alan Czarnetzki is director of the University of Northern Iowa’s STORM Project , which advises school officials on how best to utilize all the weather information at their disposal.
He says it’s important that school superintendents, as they talk to one another, make sure they are looking at the same information."It’s not always easy to determine which would be the best source, whether it’s the local TV show or the National Weather Service," Czarnetzki says, "but it’s definitely helpful if they’re at least talking about the same information."
He also notes that conditions in the open country can be much different than those in town. Czarnetzki encourages school superintendents to use the National Weather Service website because it offers information for specific locations.
"It does give good graphical information about where that forecast is valid," Czarnetzki said. He says school administrators have many complex issues to consider when it comes to canceling classes and must often anticipate weather conditions several hours ahead of time.
"It is possible that they may hear a forecast that is actually valid for, let’s say southern Iowa, when their area of concern is northern Iowa. That kind of information can be rather confusing and it just further complicates an already complicated process," Czarnetzki said. Many schools in Iowa have several days to make up because of weather cancellations this winter – and will need to so by extending classes into the month of June.