- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Classes were canceled Wednesday at schools in St. Mary’s County, and elsewhere in Maryland, because of a threatening snowstorm that turned out to be just a lot of wind and rain.
“We are relying on lots of data” from meteorologists, Superintendent Michael Martirano said Thursday morning, when making the call to cancel school.
Forecasts Tuesday night into early Wednesday continued to call for snow for St. Mary’s County and across the region. Barely a trace of snow accumulated anywhere in the county as temperatures remained in the high 30s and low 40s throughout the day.
Martirano said that when he and other school administrators checked roads in the pre-dawn hours Wednesday, there were some areas with light snow cover. At that time, forecasters were saying “the worst is yet to come,” he said.
He made the decision to close schools for the day and by 5:30 a.m. calls went out to student homes.
The weather models, which at times showed snow accumulations of half a foot or more in St. Mary’s County, never panned out.
Students in grades 3 through 8 were prepared to take their second day of the Maryland School Assessments, a battery of state standardized tests. Wednesday’s tests were made up the next day.
“It was frustrating for lots of people,” Martirano said of the snow that never came.
But Martirano said he would not second-guess his decision based on the weather predictions from various agencies.
“When you make the decision, you have to stick by it,” he said.
March 6 was the fifth day classes have been canceled this school year in St. Mary’s. Schools were also closed on Oct. 29 and 30 for Hurricane Sandy and Jan. 24 and 25 because of snow and ice.
The school calendar has five makeup days built in at the end of the school year. If no more days are canceled, the last day of school for public school students will be Thursday, June 13.
Schools were not alone in being misled by forecasters. Closures were announced early for the federal government in Washington, D.C. Workers at Patuxent River Naval Air Station were allowed to leave early based on an announcement that came late Wednesday morning. County government workers were given the option of liberal leaves, and courts and the libraries closed early Wednesday afternoon.
St. Mary’s College of Maryland and the College of Southern Maryland also canceled all classes Wednesday.
The heavy wind and rain Wednesday did take some toll on the county, knocking power out for a period during the daytime at Green Holly Elementary School and Leonardtown High School. Later Wednesday a large section of Leonardtown lost power, including at least four schools. That power was restored within about an hour and a half, Martirano said.
Numerous trees were reported down in the county, some on roadways, and there was minor flooding at several locations.