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Mike Susko

Bill Syrett
Montgomery County Schools Weather Delay/Cancellations
The superintendent of schools for Montgomery County, Pennsylvania requests weather
information between March 14 2004 to March 21 2004 to justify late season school closures.
According to County guidelines, a two-inch snowfall leads to a delay. A four-inch snowfall
causes a cancellation. To determine if the late season cancellations were justified, temperature
and snowfall data from multiple sites throughout the County were examined.

According to SC ACIS from the NOAA Regional Climate Centers, winter precipitation
occurred in Norristown, PA on March 17, 2004 - March 19, 2004. The snowfall on March 17
was recorded at 2.5 inches, which meets the criteria for a delay. Snowfall records for March 18
and March 19 were below the County criteria. Due to the size of Montgomery County, other
observation sites were used in addition to Norristown. Data from Pottstown Limerick Airport and
Palm 3 SE was acquired through NOAA’s COOP database. According to these reports,
Pottstown received mostly rain with traces of snow during the time period. Palm 3 SE received
snowfall on four days in the period. The Palm SE 3 observation for March 17, 2004 was the
highest 24-hour report at 5.0 inches of snow. March 19 2004 recorded 3.0 inches of snow. Both
days were during the school week (Wednesday and Friday respectively). The March 17
observation met the four-inch requirement for cancellation. The 3.0 inches recorded for March
19 met the requirements for a delay. Exact timing of the snowfall is not available with the COOP
reports. The COOP report also indicates conditions changed varied between rain and snow
during the time period in question.

Timing of the inclement weather should be examined to determine if a delay or

cancellation was absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, climatological observation records do not
contain specific timing information. The only information the reports include is whether or not
snow, ice, or rain accumulated between observation periods.

Based on the climate data examined for Montgomery County, PA, the superintendent of
schools was justified in the late season cancellations due to parts of the County receiving or
exceeding the snowfall amounts in the guidelines.