They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me

The Snow Day Before Thanksgiving

As in more than a WEEK before Thanksgiving. Impossible you say? No. I used to remember snows in October and November, and not just in upstate New York or Michigan's U.P. But even last year's harsh winter didn't start so early. The Polar Vortex from last year didn't die out, but lurked up there and with El Nino's failure to thrive in the Pacific, well, down it came last week. This week? This storm came out of the West, hence the deep lake effect snow bands stretching far across the lower peninsula.

The drive home on Monday was shades of things to come overnight. The usual 80 minutes ran to just under two hours. South of Plainwell/Allegan/M-89, visibility dropped close to zero. I could see the taillights of the SUV in front of me and kept a respectable distance. 4WD, 3rd gear... 2nd... 55mph... 40mph.. 25mph... and that was the fast lane. No one was doing sudden lane changes and everyone had their four-ways on. North of Plainwell you could see walls to the next snowband, with hazy blue sky above.

I had anticipated that Western Michigan University might close, so had posted a warning on my class website on Sunday night:

Yeah, complicating everything is that my third exams are this week. But notice I did plan ahead.

Last night we joked as to which university would blink first -- we are on the automated phone call lists for both WMU and GVSU. Mrs. Dr. Phil had her Kindle Fire HDX, so after the call we could determine WHICH school had closed.

Grand Valley was first, calling at 5:36am. We listened to the machine give its outgoing message... and nothing. Yeah, the automated message ran over the answering machine and hung up without repeating. Clever programming. But the Kindle confirmed:

We could still hear the wind outside and it was snowing horizontally. First traffic reports were grim. Pretty much figured I would stay home and Skype in the lecture.

Western called at 5:47am. Its message overran the answering machine, too, but at least we heard "... closed for Tuesday November 18th." Without repeating. So I got up. By putting up the first message online Sunday night, all I had to do was boot the little Fujitsu UMPC and edit Weather-021.gif and upload it and POOF, five webpages automatically update.

Of course Western didn't get the notice on their web page to confirm that the second call really was about WMU until 5:59am:

And so POOF, five webpages uploaded:

The Official Press Release:

Heavy snow and wind trigger rare campus weather closure

Snow covered trees

WMU main campuses closed on Tuesday, Nov. 18, due to snowfall.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—An unusual late fall snowstorm closed the Western Michigan University campus Nov. 18, the earliest such closure in more than 25 years.

The main campus was closed after crews were unable to stay ahead of rapidly falling snow and clear campus parking lots. With a forecast of severe cold and continuing snowfall throughout the day, the decision to close was made shortly after 5:30 a.m. Most WMU regional facilities also closed for the day. Students at regional campuses should check the EUP website for information about specific locations.

For those of you keeping score, WMU's "The University That Never Closes" record is now:

Weather-related WMU closings since 1999

  • 1999, Jan. 4-5—Heavy snowfall delayed the start of spring semester.
  • 2000, Nov. 21-22—Thanksgiving recess began Tuesday because of snow.
  • 2006, Dec. 1—An ice storm downed trees and caused power outages.
  • 2007, Feb. 5—Extreme cold and snow closed many Michigan colleges.
  • 2008, Feb. 1—WMU closed due to snow.
  • 2009, Dec. 10—Blizzard conditions closed WMU.
  • 2013, Jan. 31—Snow and icy conditions closed WMU.
  • 2014, Jan. 6-7—Significant snowfall and severely cold temperatures prompted many Michigan colleges to close. The closure delayed the start of spring semester.
  • 2014, Jan. 27—WMU closed due to cold weather and blowing snow.
  • 2014, Nov. 18—WMU closed due to cold weather and blowing snow.

I had to add the last line -- they hadn't updated yet. (grin) I'm helpful that way. (double-grin)

Now I could go back to bed, turn off the 6:20 and 6:30 alarms and go back to sleep snug under many, many layers of warm blankies. It's 20°F and still snowing at around 11am. Much finer and drier snow than last week.


Let it snow.

Rain and 40s by the weekend.

Dr. Phil

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