Welcome to the Inclement Weather Information Center for Indianapolis Public Schools. The cold weather season is upon us and when the forecast turns snowy, we understand that you want to know as soon as possible how your child’s school will be impacted. Our goal is to lay out our process and answer some of your most frequently asked questions here so you can be more informed on the how, what, when and why of our inclement weather decisions.
General Protocol For Snow
When snow rolls in overnight or in the early morning hours, the deputy superintendent for operations and the transportation director drive in different areas of the district, on both main streets and side roads, to get as complete a picture of conditions as possible. Many factors play into making important and timely decisions including:
- Amount and type of precipitation
- Temperature/wind chill
- Status of clearing roads and sidewalks
- Refreeze of melted snow/ice from the previous day
- Continued snow in the forecast
By 4:45 a.m., conditions are assessed across the city. By 5 a.m., the deputy superintendent for operations calls the superintendent to share their recommendation and discuss options for the day.
General Protocol for Extreme Cold & Wind
When dealing with the extreme cold, the process is a little different. There is no magic number for school delays/cancellations when it comes to air temperatures and/or wind chills because there are so many variables to consider.
IPS closely monitors the National Weather Service and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) for regular weather updates and forecasts.
For Extremely Cold Temperatures:
- Air temperatures that are forecasted significantly below 0 degrees for 7 a.m. (when our first wave of students are headed to the bus stops) could trigger a two-hour delay.
- If those temperatures aren’t forecasted to improve by 9 a.m. (when a two-hour delay would end), then schools could be cancelled.
For Extreme Wind Chill:
- Wind chill prediction is more of a moving target than air temperatures because of varying wind speeds from place to place.
- As a general guideline, IPS uses the NOAA wind chill chart: https://myips.org/cms/lib/IN01906626/Centricity/Domain/11677/windchillchart3.pdf
- When wind chills start to approach the 10 minutes to frostbite range, we consider that the danger zone.
- We look at the locally forecasted wind chills for our district and if they’re predicted to fall near the danger zone by 7 a.m., we would consider a two-hour delay.
- If wind chills aren’t expected to improve by 9 a.m. (when a two-hour delay would end), we would consider a cancellation.