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Frigid temperatures, dangerous wind chills close area schools
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Last week everyone was made aware of the frigid temperatures that were going to be arriving Sunday night and Monday, cold weather that would leave most people in the area bundled up in their homes. Some schools on Friday were taking advantage of that notice and were canceling schools for Monday right away, while others waited until Saturday or Sunday.

Boscobel School District Administrator Tom Woznicki made the call to cancel school for Monday on Saturday at 5 p.m. as the weather was sitting 10 degrees away from their closing guidelines.

“I found it interesting that some administrators made the call two days in advance with how the weather can just change,” Woznicki said.

The Boscobel School District has guidelines set in their school’s cold weather policy, giving examples to help the Administrator decide whether or not to cancel school. The guideline for outside temperatures including the wind chill factor for a regular day of school is 0 to -35 degrees, two-hour delay is -36 to -49 degrees and finally to close for the entire day is a -50 degree wind chill or colder.

“I waited until the weather was 10 degrees from our closing guidelines to make the final decision while also looking to the National Weather Service’s warning,” Woznicki said. “It was just going to be too cold.”

According to Woznicki, when it came to a decision to close Boscobel schools, he had three items to consider, one and three being safety of both students and faculty, and second being what was best for the students.

When closing school for an entire school day, Woznicki, according to policy, is to evaluate the weather conditions utilizing information from the weather bureau, law enforcement agencies, other districts, the director of transportation and any other sources to determine if it is safe for school personnel and students.

No matter what the reasoning, it seemed to be a consensual feeling around the area to cancel school on Monday. Which proved to be a good choice as the weather was sitting at -19 degrees Monday morning, with winds blowing at 12 mph, causing it to feel like 41 degrees below zero for those who ventured outside of their homes.

The cold weather continued into Tuesday, leaving most of the schools closed in Southwest Wisconsin for another day, except for Prairie du Chien, which opened their doors to students following a two-hour delay. With the weather at -8 degrees and winds blowing at 6 mph, it made it feel more like -21 degrees for those venturing out into the weather. However, the wind chill advisory was to expire at noon, helping with the overwhelming cold weather.

Other Cancellations

On top of closing schools for two days, the weather prevented many events from happening, including high school sporting events and Grant County’s Senior Meal Site at the Tuffley Community Center in Boscobel.

Many area schools that had basketball games or wrestling matches scheduled for Monday or Tuesday night were canceled due to the weather. Boscobel canceled two basketball games on Tuesday night. The boys’ game has already been rescheduled and will be held on Jan. 14 at Iowa-Grant.

Meal Site Director Michelle Klaas closed down the Boscobel facility on Monday and Tuesday due to the cold, but reopened again on Wednesday.

“We knew on Friday we were going to be closed, so we asked people if they wanted an extra meal to take home and about eight said yes,” Klaas said. “It was a nice roast beef meal on a very cold day.”

Stalled vehicles

After speaking with Grant County Emergency Management Director Steve Braun, due to the blowing of snow across roadways on Monday, there were a few issues reported, including stalled vehicles, slide-offs with no injuries and trucks stalled on Highway 151.

However, road accidents were not the only things keeping area rescue squads and fire departments busy Monday and Tuesday. Due to the cold weather, people were having issues with freezing pipes. That was the case for one family in the Bloomington fire district. As they attempted to thaw out their pipes, they ended up catching their house on fire.

There were also several other fires reported, including a structure in Cuba City, a Fennimore barn, and a Mount Hope house fire due to a wood stove.

“I am not sure of all the causes of these fires but I would assume people were trying to keep their animals and themselves warm,” Braun said.