The bitter cold is keeping a strong grip on KELOLAND. This winter, school administrators have repeatedly had to make the call whether to delay or cancel school. It's more difficult than dealing with a blizzard because on days like Monday, it's all based on exposure to the elements.
"We look for when the wind chills are in the range of frost bite on exposed skin in the ten-minute range, that's when we really strongly start to consider canceling school," Todd Vik with the Sioux Falls School District said.
The district relies on a chart from the National Weather Service that determines at what temperature and wind chill the skin is most susceptible to frost bite. Yet, that's not all the district takes into consideration.
"You can't just look at the wind chill factor. It can range depending on if it's windier. If it's windier and the wind chill is the same, if it's calm or virtually calm, you can get frost bite," Vik said.
Knowing the criteria, the conditions on Monday were nearly identical to that of January 31, 2013 when school was canceled. On Monday, we started the day with a wind chill of -32. Last year's wind chill was -33. However, there was an advisory issued, not a warning.
"There's been more wind chill weather advisories, which is typically not that ten-minute range. Usually, when you see warnings, it is in that ten-minute range," Vik said.
A warning was issued on January 6 of this year when wind chills reached -42 and school was cancelled.
With temperatures like these, school administrators also need to decide whether or not to delay the start of the school day. If there is no difference between forecasted temperatures at 8 a.m. and temperatures at 10 a.m., the Sioux Falls District feels it is more convenient to keep things running on time.