Kids sent home snow takes its time

January 04, 1994|By Anne Haddad and Ellie Baublitz | Anne Haddad and Ellie Baublitz,Staff Writers

There are no nerves like snow nerves.

The roads were dry and clear when Carroll County school officials decided to dismiss children one hour early yesterday. Snow had not fallen by 4 p.m., when most students would have been home under normal dismissal, and it still hadn't fallen hours later.

"While it may be unusual for us to make the call without snow on the ground, [we have] a 100 percent chance of snow [forecast] at our dismissal time," James Doolan, supervisor of transportation, said at about 12:30 p.m. yesterday.

"And it's snowing already in our surrounding counties," said Mr. Doolan, who keeps in touch with his counterparts there, as well as with weather services, state police and other sources region-wide.

"We have to make a decision by 12:30 in order to get the kids out by 1:30 at the high school," he said, then get buses back in time for the schools that dismiss later.

The bus contractors usually use each bus for three runs, starting with high school students at about 2:30 on a normal afternoon. After dropping them off, the buses go back for middle school runs, then elementary runs, with the last schools out by 3:45 p.m.

Mr. Doolan said he would wait until this morning before advising Superintendent R. Edward Shilling about whether to close school today.

The county started getting its trucks, graders and loaders ready at noon yesterday for the threatened snowstorm.

"The original forecast called for it to start between 3 and 5 p.m., then it was changed to 5 to 7 p.m.," said Jay Nave, administrative assistant for the Bureau of Road Operations.

"We started around noon getting ready," Mr. Nave said. "We don't have enough people to cover all the routes, but we do have contractual people and volunteers from other counties, and they've all been contacted and are coming in."

But he said road crews don't go out until snow starts sticking and covering grass. Then the trucks begin laying down salt in the hope of preventing serious traction problems.

"The idea with the salt is to get it down early to keep the snow from accumulating [on the roads]," Mr. Nave said. "If you wait, then the salt doesn't work as well and you have to use a lot more."

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