Going back to school is looming - North Haven starts Aug. 29 - but in the dog days of summer few people are likely thinking about the potential for school snow days this year.
But weather folks do and so to do the officials who set their annual school calendars each year. In Connecticut, public schools are required to have at least 180 instructional days each academic year and most districts include in their schedules several extra days in the event school has to be canceled because of snow.
With the mild winter of 2011-2012, which saw low snowfall amounts across the state, few districts canceled school because of snow. In North Haven, the district used no snow days last year, a school department employee said. The district did need four Tropical Storm Irene days, however.
Typically, North Haven averages three or four snow days a year. The last day of school is set for June 18, and if snow days are used, the time will be added on there. If it goes too far into June, days are cut from April vacation.
Forecasters with AccuWeather.com are projecting a weak to moderate El Niño will begin to dominate weather patterns in the Northeast by late in the summer. A weak El Niño, warm tropical air masses that blow west to east, brings with it greater snowfalls in the winter.
If you’re a kid hoping for a school snow day, a weak El Niño is the answer to your prayers.
"Historically, both strong La Niñas and weak El Niños have produced higher-than-average snowfall in the Northeastern U.S.," said Jack Boston, a senior meteorologist with AccuWeather.com.
While there was little snowfall in the state last winter, Connecticut still saw enough disruptive weather to complicate school schedules during the academic year.
First, there was Tropical Storm Irene, which hit in late August last year, cutting power to about 800,000 across the state and forcing many school districts to delay the start of the school year, some by nearly a week.
Then, a freak October snowstorm that hit around Halloween again cut power to hundreds of thousands in Connecticut and forced school districts to close.