Melvin Beversdorf (left) and two of his children work together to clear a neighbor’s driveway during the first of three snowfalls the area received in the past week. The snow was followed by bitter cold temperatures approaching record lows. (Photo by Chad Hensiak)

Snow, then bitter cold paralyze area

By Jason Arndt


With crippling cold temperatures, courtesy of a polar vortex, schools and businesses were not the only places to shut their doors this week.

The predicted record-breaking cold also closed government offices, including some in the City of Burlington, like City Hall and the Municipal Court.

The National Weather Service Sullivan office on Tuesday warned residents to prepare for record low temperatures Wednesday into Thursday with a predicted high of 10 below zero. Overnight lows were expected to exceed 20 below zero with wind chills exceeding 40 below zero.

The Burlington Area School District, which already cancelled classes on Monday because of substantial snowfall, announced Tuesday that classes on Wednesday and possibly Thursday have also been scratched.

BASD Superintendent Peter Smet said his decision hinged on the well being of children.

“From a superintendent standpoint, I am most concerned about the safety of the children in this weather,” Smet said. “We can keep our buses and schools warm, but getting to and from school is my biggest concern.”

According to BASD guidelines, officials take the National Weather Service’s wind chill warning under heavy consideration when deciding to close schools.

Smet also consults with his counterparts at other districts and maintains communication with Thomas Bus Co., the provider of transportation for BASD.

BASD also cancelled classes on Thursday, which, according to Smet, means the district will need to start making up days, either by adjusting the academic calendar to use an in-service day or add another day in June.

For the full story on this week’s weather — including how public works crews handled the mess — see this week’s edition of the Burlington Standard Press.