Are Port schools facing a potentially snow day-less winter?

Julia Bischoff, Features Editor

On Feb. 2, Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow, signifying an early spring.  However, for many people, it feels as though spring has already sprung.  This is because of the looming possibility of a snow day-less school year, due to the unconventionally warm weather.

This may be hard to believe, especially since New York, and most of the country, recently experienced a harsh polar vortex.  With wind chills making it feel like 60 below zero in some parts of the country, it is tempting to jump to the conclusion that snow is surely on its way, and that global warming is just a myth.

What might be harder to believe is that this polar vortex is actually caused by global warming.  Essentially, the Arctic is warming at a slightly faster rate than that of the rest of the world, so it cannot keep the polar vortex above it intact as much as it used to.

Since the vortex is loosening, the frigid Arctic air is pushed to lower latitudes.  This gives us the intense cold surges that we just experienced, but not the snow.

Climate change and global warming does not just cause the occasional polar vortex and warming temperatures, but a host of other problems throughout the world.  There is coastal flooding due to the melting of the ice caps, big changes in global precipitation patterns, stronger and more intense hurricanes, rising sea levels, and much more.  While there are a few positives, like longer growing seasons, it seems as though the downsides are far more drastic.

According to NASA, the Northeast region specifically will be experiencing increased heat waves, rising sea levels, and increased downpours.  Downpours, and just rain in all forms, have been more common this year.  Even during months when the precipitation should be snow, we mostly experienced just rain.

But what does this warming of the planet and occasional cold spells mean for snow, and specifically for snow days?  Besides the two or three days in which snow has blessed us lightly, there haven’t been many snow days yet this school year. 

It seems as though the beloved snow day may be a thing of the past.  From last year to this year there has been a significant decrease in snowfall so far. Last year, across Long Island, we got 55.2 inches as an annual total.  This year it has only snowed about 5.6 inches, according to Newsday.  This fluctuation is quite common, some years are very snowy, and others are not.

From these numbers, the average, over the last 20 years, was 41.7 inches per year. According to this estimate, we are extremely below average.

“We better have a snow day on Tuesday, I’ve been hoping for one all year. To go a whole year without any would be extremely disappointing,” said senior Karen Kohama earlier this week. 

With recent drops in temperatures, there is the possibility of snow in the coming weeks.  A possible snow day prediction for Feb. 12 caused some students to be utterly ecstatic, especially since it would have been the first snow day all year and caused them to hope for more.

All in all, it is truly unfortunate that this winter may pass, and we will not have used up all of our given snow days.  Yet, what is more unfortunate is the fact that this reality of less snow, more rain, polar vortexes, and extreme weather patterns hints that the global climate is taking a turn for the worst.  If you are among the many students who longs for snow days, maybe it is time to take precautions to save our planet.