Tropical Storm Irene delayed the first day of school for about a week last year. But though kids returned to school on schedule this year, Irene seems to have blown away the traditional weeklong February break for good.
Last year, the February break was cut short because schools needed to make up for lost time. This year, that's happening again because, frankly, no one seemed to miss it.
"We eliminated the February vacation last year in order to make up several of the days," said East Lyme School Superintendent James Lombardo. "The school board this year approved a calendar that did not include it. Things still operate quite well when we don't have that extra vacation week and that longstanding tradition went away with barely a peep."
The same is true for the Lyme-Old Lyme school district, which also curtailed the traditional weeklong February vacation to just two days this year.
That's not the only way the weather has or will affect the school calendar this year, however.
More Snow Days Predicted
In the dog days of summer probably few people are thinking about the potential for school snow days. But weather folks do and so to do the officials who set the school calendars.
In Connecticut, public schools are required to have at least 180 instructional days each academic year and most districts include several extra days in the schedule in case school has to be canceled because of snow.
With the mild winter of 2011-2012, which saw low snowfall amounts across the state, few districts canceled school because of snow—although the freak snow storm last Halloween cut power to many districts resulting in cancellations.
Meteorologists are predicting that we'll see a lot more snow this year, however. Forecasters with AccuWeather.com are projecting a weak to moderate El Niño will begin to dominate weather patterns in the Northeast by late in the summer. A weak El Niño means warm tropical air masses blow west to east, bringing greater snowfalls in the winter.
If you’re a kid hoping for a school snow day, a weak El Niño is the answer to your prayers.
"Historically, both strong La Niñas and weak El Niños have produced higher-than-average snowfall in the Northeastern U.S.," said Jack Boston, a senior meteorologist with AccuWeather.com.