Urbana schools chief offers reasons for closing in cold

Most area schools called off classes and extracurricular events Thursday as winter weather continued to cause havoc. One superintendent, Don Owen of Urbana District 116, used his blog — "View from Here" — to explain.

"Closing school is never an easy decision, mainly because it is not an exact science," he wrote. "My primary consideration is the safety of students."

Owen said he posted after an email exchange Wednesday night with a parent who was upset the district canceled school. Once his entry found its way to Facebook on Thursday, Owen said, responses started flooding in — some from acquaintances he hadn't heard from in years.

"Canceling (school) disrupts a lot of things for a lot of people," he said. "If more people understood what goes into making that decision, I think it will help."

Thursday morning's low was minus 4 degrees — with wind chills making it feel much colder.

State climatologist Jim Angel said the average temperature so far this January is 20 degrees. That's 6.3 degrees below average and ranks as the 17th-coldest January on record in Illinois.

But wait.

"Of course, if the forecast holds for the rest of January, we would end up colder," Angel said.

January's snowfall accumulation in Champaign-Urbana is at 14.2 inches, halfway toward a record 28.3 inches in 1979. The season record is 67.2 inches in 1977-78. As of Thursday, the 2013-14 total was 24.7 inches.

The National Weather Services has issued a wind-chill advisory through noon today. Wind chills will frequently be near 20 below at sunrise near the Interstate 74 corridor. After a weekend reprieve, the forecast for Monday calls for a return of dangerous wind chills between 20 and 30 below.

Several school districts have canceled classes for today.

Sections (2):News, Local
Topics (1):Education

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