How schools make the call to close due to cold temperatures

Posted at 4:17 PM, Jan 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-15 18:18:04-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Early Monday afternoon school districts across the metro began announcing they would be closed Tuesday.

Click here for school closing information.

Most districts said “freezing,” “extremely cold” temperatures were the reason for the closures.

Raytown Schools said on Twitter the wind-chill advisory was a factor in the decision to cancel class and activities.

The National Weather Service in Kansas City tweeted that residents in the area can expect “bitterly cold” temperatures Monday night, with wind chill values around negative 20 to negative 30 degrees by Tuesday morning.

41 Action News has reported that districts take several things into account when calling school off, such as snow amounts, temperatures and wind speeds.

Some school districts also reach out to others to see what they might be thinking about closing.

North Kansas City Schools Spokesperson Susan Hiland offered 41 Action News some insight into that district's decision-making process.

Hiland said a few contributing factors included: 

  • The wind chill advisory in effect Tuesday morning
  • No significant rise in temperatures during the day
  • Concern for student safety 
  • Conversation with other superintendents 

Many districts, like North Kansas City, cancel school so students who wait at bus stops or walk to school don't have to be outside in such dangerous conditions.

A recent article from The Washington Post said some districts use a wind chill of  negative 25 degrees as a “tipping point” when deciding whether to keep their doors open.

The article also said closures depend on average temperatures in the area. While children in a state such as Minnesota may be more accustomed to such low temperatures, children in Missouri may be experiencing some of the coldest they ever have.

41 Action News Chief Meteorologist Gary Lezak said the overnight low from Monday into Tuesday is negative 4 degrees with northwest winds at between 10 and 20 mph.

According to a chart from the National Weather Service, that combination means frostbite could set in in as little time as 30 minutes.

To learn more about winter weather and the threats it can pose, click to read stories from the 41 Action News “Wonders of Winter” weather special.