How cold is too cold for Minnesota schools?
Updated 2:50 p.m. | Posted 1:19 p.m.
What's true in politics is true also in weather: It's all local. Or almost all local.
When it comes to deciding when it's too cold or too snowy to go to school, the decisions in Minnesota are left up to local school districts, for the most part. And as of this year, the state's three largest districts have decided an objective criteria for closing schools are the way to go.
St. Paul set its cold weather policy earlier this year , after the district canceled classes for two days last January.
Grow the Future of Public Media
MPR News is Member supported public media. Show your support today, donate, and ensure access to local news and in-depth conversations for everyone.
In St. Paul, schools will close if the forecast for 6 a.m. calls for a wind chill below minus 40 degrees, or air temperature below minus 25 degrees. School officials will make a decision by 6:30 p.m. the night before canceling classes.
Minneapolis, the state's third largest school district, has also developed a cold weather policy.
District officials will consider closing schools when the wind chill is minus 35 degrees or below, and more than 6 inches of snow falls in 12 hours or more than 8 inches of snow falls in 24 hours. School officials will try to notify parents by 6 p.m. the night before, or by 5:30 a.m. the morning of the cancellation.
The state's largest school district, Anoka-Hennepin, also has set a wind chill threshold for canceling schools.
District officials will close Anoka-Hennepin schools if the National Weather Service issues a wind chill warning that exposed skin can become frostbitten in less than 15 minutes. The district doesn't have a published deadline for making the decision, but does have its strategy available online.
Schools in Duluth don't list an objective criteria, but say school personnel are out on the roads by 4 a.m. to check weather conditions. The decision on whether to close schools is made by 6 a.m.
Edina Public Schools said that in the event of an extreme cold weather situation it intends to "default to a two-hour delay instead of canceling school for the day. However, all decisions will be considered on a case by case basis, taking into account local circumstances."
There is, as well, the nuclear (winter) option. Minnesota's governor can order public schools closed. DFLer Mark Dayton did just that on Jan. 6, 2014 (minus 23 degrees in the Twin Cities).
Previously, Republican Arne Carlson also ordered schools closed on: Jan. 16, 1997 (minus 8 degrees in the Twin Cities), Feb. 2, 1996 (minus 32 degrees in the Twin Cities) and Jan. 18, 1994 (minus 16 degrees in the Twin Cities). Wind chills were considerably lower in many cases.
You can view the records here.