Map: How Much Snow Does It Take To Shut Down Schools Across The U.S.?

Spoiler: About an inch of snow can shut down the entire South!

Map: How Much Snow Does It Take To Shut Down Schools Across The U.S.?
[Image: School bus in snow via Shutterstock]

With so many polar vortices running amok, schools have been taking a lot of snow days this year. But even with equal amounts of snow fall, a snow day isn’t a snow day for everyone, because there are no hard and set national policies around winter weather; schools are allowed to make the decision district by district.


The result is the map you see here. By redditor atrubetskoy, it’s built with regional school closure information from hundreds of user comments, interpolated using NOAA’s average annual snowfall map.

As you can see, the results look a lot like the NOAA average snowfall map! (In other words, the more snow you usually get, the more snow it takes to shut down a school.) And school closures mostly play to stereotypes, like that yes, a dusting of snow will shut down most of the South. Northerners can make fun of that, but of course, the South doesn’t have the snow removal budgets, infrastructure, or hearty beef-stew blood that the North does.

There is just one substantial catch: School closures are often based more on the cold than the snow. Take a look at Chicago, where I live. The map implies that it takes two feet of snow to shut us down. And while that figure may or may not be accurate, in reality, we don’t get that much snow very often, and we close more because of the cold–when we close at all. (The teachers union had to protest for closures this year, citing dangers that windchill posed to the faculty and students.)

Even still, it’s a fun map to contemplate, from the warmth of a corporate cubicle.

See more here.

[Hat tip: FlowingData]

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started, a simple way to give back every day.