The Ithaca City School District made a decision early this morning to open for the day, but reports of worsening road conditions as the morning progressed prompted the district to close some schools early. Lehman Alternative Community School, Boynton Middle School, DeWitt Middle School, and Ithaca High School will all be dismissed at noon. All other schools transported by ICSD will be dismissed at their normal times, and all district after-school and evening activities are canceled.
A winter storm warning is in effect until 10am Friday, saying we can expect heavy snow, blowing snow, and dangerously cold wind chills. Initial forecasts suggested the conditions would worsen this afternoon and evening.
This morning's commute was messier than expected, with numerous accidents and near-collisions reported, including school buses sliding on area roads. The Tompkins County Sheriff's Department reportedly closed a portion of Route 13 from Triphammer Road to Stewart Park for a little while, but the road has been reopened.
Many other area school districts are already closed for winter break through the end of the week. Cortland schools closed for the day, and Watkins Glen schools, which are still on break, have canceled scheduled athletic practices.
ICSD says their "Reverse Release" plan, in which middle schools and high school are dismissed early but elementary schools are not, will get older kids home early in the day, and get younger kids home when a caregiver or older sibling will be available.
Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3) is closing all locations at 2:30pm.
Loaves and Fishes of Tompkins County is closing today, and will not be serving dinner tonight. FoodNet Meals on Wheels is open and doing its best to reach everyone then can with food deliveries, though drivers had to skip a few houses due to bad roads.
Thursday's high temperatures will most likely be in the teens, dropping to or below zero Thursday night. Temperatures on Friday are unlikely to escape the single digits. Strong winds on Thursday night, along with "bitterly cold air" pushing down into the area from Canada, will mean wind chills as low as 25 degrees below zero late Thursday night and Friday morning.
The National Weather Service calls it the "coldest weather expected in at least three years," with wind chills in the Adirondacks likely to drop as low as 40 below, and warns of the potential for frozen pipes and dead car batteries. Any power outages resulting from high winds or icing could leave some area residents without heat.