Sunday, 22 January 2012
Concord Carlisle Weather Services Snowfall/Snow Day Research
Hall E (New Orleans Convention Center )
The student group, Concord Carlisle Weather Services (CCWS) at Concord Carlisle High School in Massachusetts conducted a research project all year correlating snowfall and public school snow days. Snow days are days during the school week (Monday through Friday) that are cancelled because of poor weather conditions. As high school students in the northeast, we naturally pray for snow days throughout the winter season. And as meteorologists, we wondered if there was any way to predict the amount of snow days we would have each season, and then connect our findings to types of snowfall events. We used resourceful meteorological websites such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s National Weather Service, for snowstorm data, statistics of public high schools in the Northeast, and data of the frequency of snow days that occurred each year. With this information, we came up with some conclusions about when/how/ why snow days are called. If we could figure this out, we would be heroes among the student body. We looked at the correlation between snowfall and snow days in eastern Massachusetts. With this idea in mind, we questioned: why do schools have snow days? What causes them? What conditions are necessary for a school to be cancelled? We sent out a questionnaire to the other public schools in our district, the Dual County League, and we contacted other schools dispersed throughout Massachusetts. We sent our questionnaire to schools near the coast and to schools near mountains, so we could balance out our data. In the Dual County League, the athletic league that Concord Carlisle High School participates in, snow days are always called differently. Towns in our local area call snow days differently depending on each school's qualifications. At times every school bordering Concord has had a snow day, but Concord has not, and we wondered, why? These feelings sparked Concord Carlisle Weather Services to think about doing a project on snow days. We wanted to find out why school districts don't call snow days on the same days and what the criteria is for calling them. With this research project in mind, we thought we could present our findings with the other students' research posters at the AMS student poster session. After going to the AMS conference last year in 2011, we were inspired by the research we saw. We learned about rivers and flooding patterns, tornados in Oklahoma, and dramatic changes in sea level around Puerto Rico. The big weather events that occur in the Northeast are Nor'easter snowstorms, and this is what our project is on. In order to gather the necessary information for the project, we contacted school districts in our region with a questionnaire relating to snowfall and snow days in their respective districts. The data we asked for included the number and dates of all of their district's snow days in the last 10 years. We cross-referenced those dates with the dates of the highest snowfall in the last 10 years. Additionally, we asked about the criteria that the superintendents used to determine which days qualified as snow days. We used the data that we received to draw a geographic line that divided the districts with low criteria for snow days and districts with stiff criteria for snow days. Beyond the results of our research, this project provided a wonderful opportunity for high school students to get a taste of scientific research. From doing this project, we have learned how to effectively conduct a research project that is useful to several people in our local area. Although we are not able to predict the future, we can now call snow days more effectively. Now CCWS can add research to the list of our many duties. In addition to this research, we broadcast the weather forecasts on our local television network, our local, student-run radio station, and in our blog on our website: cchsweather.com. We track the weather using the National Weather Service and our local CBS Boston area News and Weather station to create our forecasts for Concord and Carlisle Massachusetts. We also go on informative field trips during our vacation days to the WBZ Channel 4 News Station in Boston, MA and to the Mount Washington Observatory to learn more about weather, climates, and forecasting in the professional world. We continue to add more activities to this group and we are all so enthusiastic to spread the word about weather in our school.