Extreme cold shuts down schools
February 05. 2013 4:19PM
Wind chills deep below the zero degree mark Thursday forcing school officials to cancel classes.
Administrators at dozens of schools in the area, including Baltic and Dell Rapids, made the decision to cancel classes the night prior as meteorologists were calling for subzero temperatures and wind chills at times as low as -40 degrees.
“These are dangerous temperatures for students to be out in,” said Summer Schultz, Dells Rapids School District Superintendent. “Often we will be able to get by with a late start. However, today the temperatures were not expected to change enough to benefit from a late arrival.”
At 10 a.m. Thursday, conditions reached their lowest with a -7 degree temperature and northwest wind gusts between 24 and 30 miles per hour had outside air feeling as cold as -33 degrees.
Thursday’s high temperature of -1 degree was the first subzero high temperature the area has experienced in more than two years.
Temperatures remained frigid but perked up enough for Dell Rapids and Baltic students to head back to class the following day.
Shultz said canceling classes because of cold without a major snow event is somewhat rare.
“It's not very common unless we have temperatures (like this),” she said. “Luckily it doesn't happen very often.”
Baltic School District Superintendent Robert Sittig said deciding to postpone a day of school until the end of the year is never an easy choice.
“It is a subjective call and a tough one,” he said. “We have to balance the fact that we live in South Dakota and adverse weather conditions are not uncommon, while at the same time keeping our students and staff safe.”
Sittig said if he’s going to error, he will always do so on the side of caution.
Because the extreme wind chills and low temperatures are something people deal with every day, Schultz said students are often caught off guard.
“That's also part of the problem,” she said. “Students aren't always prepared for the cold temperatures and vehicles, including buses, don't run as well in the cold temps.”