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Friday, March 10, 2017

‘Weather Geek’ Super Explains School Closing Call

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Palmer’s tweeted explanation. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) @WestportSuper/twitter.com

Calling herself a “weather geek,” Westport Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer took to twitter tonight to offer a lengthy explanation about her school cancellation decision early today.

“Why supt. hate calling snow days at 5 a.m. when all we have to go on is the meteorologist’s forecast!,” she wrote. “More snow Tues.”

And, showing her advanced computer capabilities, she bypassed the 140-word twitter limit by attaching an image of her much longer explanation.

Her tweet recalled the uproar over her predecessor Elliott Landon’s 6:45 a.m. late closing call and and subsequent explanation during a February 2014 snowstorm when other districts made it much earlier.  (See WestportNow Feb. 7, 2014)

“…Lo and behold after all these years, my crystal ball was wrong,” he told the Board of Education.

Here is the complete text of Palmer’s explanation:

“Many folks might think the reason we saw very low impacts on roads today might be completely related to road temps and poor snowfall rates; not really.

“Even in March, a 3 to 5 inch snowfall usually leads to a decent amount of snow cover on roadways.

“The fact that 3 to 5 inch snowfalls occurred tells us that we did indeed get moderate to heavy snowfall rates that usually would coated up many roads.

“But from everything that I observed and noted from the data, the saving grace was the small size of the snowflakes.

“During the late winter or early spring with air temps around 30 degree (give or take a degree or two), small snowflakes (a quarter or an inch or smaller) are easily melted by road treatments and have a hard time accumulating.

“If snowflake size is a bit bigger than a quarter of an inch, the flakes will overlap upon striking the ground and allow for a layer of snowflakes to develop on road surface before the treatments can completely melt them; that layer can then be used by other flakes as a landing board to keep them from making contact with treatments; before you know it roads are snow covered.

“If you get one half inch snowflake size or bigger, it is even easier to get covered roads.

“So I think we caught a break today in terms of snowflake size helping to prevent an initial layer of snow to get started on roadways.

“Slightly bigger flakes today would have allowed for a widespread snow covered road situation. 3 to 5 inch snowfall accumulations over a 6 hour period usually causes considerable road coverage even in March, but flake size appears to have been the unknown factor when trying to gauge road issues in the forecast today…Interesting stuff to a weather geek like me…”

A short time later, Palmer tweeted a picture of the outside of the SoNo Baking Company, 44 Church Lane, and said: “At least the snow day meant short lines to get my morning coffee…”

And early Saturday, Palmer tweeted this postscript: “Snowflake size discussion went viral—go figure!  Must attribute snowflake explanation note to John Bagioni, our district meteorologist.”

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Posted 03/10/17 at 11:20 PM  Permalink



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