Snowy commute on Route 56

Cars move on Route 56 between Richland Township and Windber on Monday, Jan. 26, 2015.

Another round of wicked winter weather is predicted for the Cambria-Somerset region on Thursday, and that has a number of local schools dismissing students early.

Richland School District is among the earliest dismissals, with high school students being dismissed at 11:35 a.m. and the elementary pupils a half-hour later.

Arnold J. Nadonley, Richland’s superintendent of schools, said there is a lot that went into the decision to dismiss early.

“It is a difficult decision,” he said. “You do look at weather forecasts. I try  to look at the National Weather Service and talk among various superintendents.”

The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory covering Cambria and Somerset counties for 11 a.m. Thursday through 7 a.m. Friday. It warns of snow accumulations of 2 to 4 inches and ice accumulations of less than a tenth of an inch.

Nadonley said that the predictions of freezing rain are the most troublesome.

“That’s the main thing,” he said. “Snow, is one thing (but freezing rain is another).”

Nadonley said that making decisions regarding delays or cancellations is always difficult because, even with today’s technology, weather forecasts are not always accurate.

“You’re not sure if the weather is going to come or not,” he said. “If you’re talking the freezing rain, it becomes a challenge. You err on the side of caution.”

Barbara Parkins, superintendent of schools for United School District, said that a changing weather forecast led to the Indiana County district to let students out early.

“Most of the junior high and high school kids were on the their way when we heard that the band on freezing rain was going to come in,” Parkins said. “It was supposed to be a thin coating of ice plus 2 to 4 inches of snow, which would have provided traction. We got more information of 2 to 4 inches of ice. Because that came through, we decided to make that decision.”

While delays and cancellations are fairly common in the region, early dismissals happen infrequently. It can be difficult for working parents to arrange child care on days when schools dismiss early.

Nadonley understands that.

“It is a concern,” he said. “We always encourage parents to have a plan in place if they’re working. It is difficult.”

It isn’t just school bus drivers that need to traverse on snowy or icy roads, which is something that superintendents must consider.

“The other thing we have to take into account – good, bad or indifferent, we have a lot of student drivers that are young an inexperienced,” he said.

Reported dismissals

Closing three hours early

Cambria Heights School District

Closing two hours early

Bedford Area School District

Chestnut Ridge School District

Meyersdale Area School District

Salisbury-Elk Lick School District

Shanksville-Stonycreek School District

Somerset Area School District

Westmont Hilltop High School

11:30 a.m.

Conemaugh Valley High School

Northern Cambria middle and high schools

United High School

11:35 a.m.

Richland High School

11:45 a.m.

Forest Hills middle and high schools

Noon

Central Cambria middle and high schools

Conemaugh Township middle and high schools

Ferndale Area High School

Johnstown Christian School

Penn Cambria middle and high schools

Portage Area High School

12:15 p.m.

Conemaugh Valley Elementary School

Richland Elementary School

12:30 p.m.

Blacklick Valley High School

Ferndale Area Elementary School

Forest Hills Elementary School

North Star School District

Northern Cambria Elementary School

Portage Area Elementary

Shade-Central City School District

United Elementary School

12:45 p.m.

Central Cambria Elementary School

Conemaugh Township Elementary School

Penn Cambria Elementary School

1 p.m.

Berlin Brothersvalley School District

Blacklick Valley Elementary School

Greater Johnstown High School

Rockwood Area School District

Turkeyfoot Valley School District

Windber Area middle and high schools

1:30 p.m.

Windber Area Elementary School

2 p.m.

Greater Johnstown Elementary School

Eric Knopsnyder is the digital editor of Tribune-Democrat.com. He can be reached at (814) 532-5069. Follow him​ on Twitter @Eric_Knopsnyder.

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