Old Man Winter has settled in and seems to be getting comfortable.
Ice and snowy weather hit Brown County this past week, leading to numerous cancellations and travel concerns — along with a blast of Arctic temperatures. Rain had started late Thursday and turned to ice overnight, leading to several school cancellations on Friday. Monday was a holiday for at least Hiawatha schools, and although temperatures reached nearly 30 on Tuesday, a few local schools — including USD 415 Hiawatha — were closed due to unsafe travel conditions on the country roads as ice had not fully melted.
More winter weather came Wednesday morning with some snow as temperatures hovered around freezing. Roadways were slightly slushy, but still slick and after at first announcing a two-hour delay, Hiawatha schools closed for the day when it became apparent the snow was here to stay for the day.
Hiawatha Superintendent Lonnie Moser said Wednesday was the third full snow day for the district, plus one late start and one early release — although those don’t go against the district. He said he was out in the wee hours of the morning checking roads and initially thought a delay would take care of any issues. He said that also gave him time to gather more information about what the day would bring.
However, by around 7 a.m., it was apparent that the snow was settling in and so school was cancelled for the day.
So far, Moser said he isn’t worried about the missed school days, but reminded there was still a lot of winter left.
“If you remember, last year we missed nine days,” Moser said. “We made one up but were still OK. It’s not about missed days, but about education and learning. But, it’s also about safety.”
With that in mind, Moser said he met with the district bus drivers on Tuesday and developed “Snow Routes.” This means, that in case of inclement weather, if highways are passable and safe, buses could still run their routes, but avoid gravel roads that may be too icy or not safe. This could mean that some students might not be able to be picked up, but the district would make every effort to pick up those that they could do safely.
Moser said this would help with missed school on days such as Tuesday — when many roads were passable, but several were still too icy for travel, but if travel just becomes too unsafe then school will be dismissed altogether.
Moser and his staff is in the process of getting information out to all bus rider families and said it may not impact many routes much. However, some routes have more gravel and unmaintained county roads to travel than others.
Other school districts have also gone to developing “snow routes” for their busing as well.
More snow is expected for Thursday, while temperatures dip into the upper 20s at night, but around freezing during the day. The National Weather Service is calling for an initial rain snow mix into the day Thursday, which will transition to all snow during the daytime hours before exiting the area overnight Thursday into Friday morning. An additional 3 inches of accumulation was expected. Weekend weather looks to be about mid 30s and partly sunny, which no precipitation in the forecast.