Winter stubborn about letting go

Parents cope with another day with schools closed
Mar. 18, 2014 @ 06:08 PM

With school out due to the bad weather on Tuesday, Hui Li took her two sons to the Durham County South Regional Library.

One busied himself with a puzzle, while the other worked on an activity at a nearby table.

Li said she works part-time in the mornings. Due to Durham Public Schools cancelling for the day, she had to take leave from work to care for her older son. The younger son’s preschool didn’t cancel.

“I think school should (have been held) today,” Li said, concerned that the missed day would affect her son’s academics. “Late is acceptable. I don’t think (conditions) outside are very bad.”

Schools in Durham, Chapel Hill-Carrboro and Orange County all closed Tuesday. Temperatures overnight dropped below freezing, said Brandon Locklear, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Raleigh, leaving a “very light glaze” on the Triangle area as precipitation fell as freezing rain overnight.

“It’s kind of fun, but it’s getting a little bit old,” Jennifer Terry said of the weather and school cancellations on Tuesday. She was at the Northgate Stadium 10 movie theater with her 5-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son. Both her daughter’s preschool and son’s school were cancelled.

They had breakfast together, watched some TV and did a bunch of crafts, Terry said. It’s harder to convince her son to go to school the next day, and also with all the days off due to weather, she worried they’d lose part of spring break.

“I don’t want to say it was ridiculous to close today, but it’s probably not what I would have done,” she said.

As a result of the cancellation Tuesday, the Durham Public Schools Board of Education will have to make decision about how to make up two inclement weather days, said DPS spokesman Chip Sudderth.

While Sudderth said a total of seven inclement weather days have been used this school year, and seven were built into the schedule, several of those built in-make up days already passed before the latest bad weather started.

“The school board is very much aware that parents have been expressing concerns about spring break, but a decision about these two make-up days has not been made yet,” Sudderth said.

Jeff Nash, a spokesman for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, said the district was able to make-up for the other inclement weather days by holding school on planned teacher workdays and also by canceling pre-planned delayed openings.

To make up for Tuesday’s cancellation, he said, the CHCCS Board of Education will use a day that was tacked onto the end of the school year “just in case.”

Nash said that so far, that means that the district will not have to use any Saturdays to make up school, or take any days from break.

“We’re ready for good weather,” he said. “It’s been a rough winter but we think better days are ahead.”

Conditions are expected to improve in the next few days, Locklear said.

Temperatures were expected to return into the normal range on Thursday, with highs in the lower to mid 60s. The normal high is 64 degrees, he said, and the normal low is 40.  

“We’re going to be back to what we should be this time of year, which is the lower-to-mid 60s,” he said. “We’ll actually see quite bit of sun and all of these low clouds and …drizzle will be over by Thursday.”

But Jonathan Blaes, another meteorologist with the NWS, warned that in about a week, another system may produce widespread chilly rainfall. Temperatures are expected to average 5 to 10 degrees below normal.

However, he said that with each day and week, it’s going to get harder for winter to try to bring freezing rain, sleet and other “higher-impact weather events.” Still, the below-normal temperatures may breed complaints.

“Even if we have temperatures 10 degrees below normal, still in the 50s, it will be uncomfortable,” he said. “It will make folks complain more, (and it’s) not very spring-like, which is what they’re kind of looking for. It’ll come eventually – the question is, when’s that going to happen?”