Snow days, fun days

Monday started like any other day.

Kates' alarm went off about 5:30 a.m. She rolled out of bed and started getting ready for school. My alarm went off about 6:15 a.m. I hit the snooze button, and then got out of bed when the second alarm sounded about 10 minutes later. Phoebe could be heard, crying, "Mom-MEEEE!" from her bedroom downstairs. Kates went down to rescue her from the darkness, and I began getting myself ready for work.

Just another morning.

But after I'd been in the shower for a couple minutes, my phone started ringing with some urgency. I ended my shower, returned my messages and learned -- insert triumphant music -- our campus was closing for the day!

In the hubbub of getting ready for her day, Kates hadn't even thought to check her phone for any messages ... Yep, the K-12 schools were closed also.

Fast forward to this morning. My partners in communications just finished dispatching messages to our students, staff and media that our campus is closed for the third consecutive day. ... Kates's school is closed, too, for the third consecutive day.

Today I was supposed to be heading to the capitol for a legistlative trip. That was called off Monday morning.

Monday, the schools closed because of a thick sheet of ice covering everything. Tuesday, it was because of the predicted snowstorm that eventually came roaring through midday yesterday. And today it's because of wicked wind chills, winds and drifting snow.

My task of getting out Monday's weather alerts was a little bumpy because of some problems with our remote email system -- I made three trips to campus between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to deal with it -- but after three days, we've got our system working like clockwork. The last two mornings, the University police chief called me by 4 a.m., I sent a text alerting the others -- within 20 minutes we had nearly 8,000 e-mails going out, phone calls into the regional media, and postings on all of our social media, website and calendar.

Check out my home weather center ...

And we're not just talking about a simple "Classes are canceled" message. We have to coordinate with a multitude of other campus services to make sure our students are aware of what's available -- campus dining, the library, athletics events; last night we inserted a message urging students to check their university email frequently because faculty are trying to communicate with them about class schedules and assignments.

Monday night and last night, I had our school closing messages drafted and ready to go, just in case ... A scroll through the call and texting log on my phone provides a fascinating look -- to me at least -- at the processes and timelines of these last three days.

Unbelievable is one way to put it. No one, it seems, can think of any time a storm of this magnitude has occurred. ... Yesterday morning, after the latest closing alerts went out, a friend asked, "Do you love your job today?" I answered, "Of course, I love my job today! We didn't get snow days in newspaper world."

Seriously. Look at this satellite picture I pulled from a tweet I received yesterday ...

Have I mentioned how much I love watching social media, especially during major events like this? Snowmageddon, snowpocalypse and snOMG hashtags are trending on Twitter. ... On Facebook, faculty colleagues have taken bets each night on when the university would announce the next campus closure, and students are posting a variety of amusing messages, from imploring our university leadership to cancel another day to random musings like this ...

Instead of trying to scrape off the snow, you should surprise us with no classes and an awesome ski resort in the middle of the practice fields. oh and Snowboards for everyone.
One of my favorite status updates -- not from a student or faculty  member -- came from a Facebook friend in Kansas City Monday afternoon ...

State of emergency has been declared ahead of the storm. All Missouri residents are instructed to report immediately to their nearest Wal-Mart.
From a televison friend of mine ...

... putting us up at a hotel near the station tonight to make sure we have all hands on deck for continuing coverage of the winter storm. Chris dropped me off - our drive here was crazy - could barely see because windshield wipers froze and low visibility. Now I'm snuggled in to get some zzz's to head in at 2 a.m. tomorrow.
I've been watching the photos, status updates, story links and school closings roll in nearly non-stop. From Lawrence, Kan., to Wauwatosa, Wis., to Boston. ... The Kansas City airport was closed for much of yesterday. Interstate 70 is closed -- statewide.

I'm not about to break out the shovel. Yet.

And still, we don't have it near as bad as what our friends in K-Town are dealing with. Snow forecasts there are calling for as much as 2 feet, they were dealing with snow thunder last night, my former newspaper suspended delivery this morning and some staffers were stranded there overnight ... Is it wrong that I'm kind of missing experiencing all of that? Check out this video.

And oh by the way, there's a pretty big football game this weekend and some kind of crisis in Egypt.

Then again, these snow days have yielded unending fun and bonding time in our household. ... With all we've been through in the last year, this snowstorm is a welcome adventure. Kates and I wonder often what effect all of this uncertainty is having on Phoebe, but she is absolutely loving staying home with Mom and Dad these last three days.

When all the chaos of Monday's closing announcements settled, she was pulling me to a sheet of bubble wrap she placed on the floor. "Jump wit me, Daddy!" she shouted, and we spent the next several minutes jumping on bubble wrap to the beat of some pop music we'd turned on the iPod.

We've laughed and danced. A lot. ... Kates made muffins. And Chex mix. Last night we roasted marshmallows over the oven burner and made s'mores. ... I've given piggy-back rides. We've stacked blocks and created animal cut-outs with Play-doh. We moved all of her friends to the couch so she could sit and read with them ... I figure I've had some pretty darn good workouts with all the running, jumping and lifting I've done with Phoebe.


During afternoons and evenings, when I haven't been working on other things and Phoebe's asleep, Kates and I resumed our "Friends marathon" -- the one we started last July that slowed during the fall. We've finished Season 3 and started Season 4 last night.

Today, the fun continues. Snowmageddon 2011.

Good reads ...
a Boston Globe: Even children have had enough
a USA Today: Major storm wallops nation's midsection
a The New York Times: Storm Stops Travelers as It Moves Across U.S.
a Time: Midwest Buckles Under Storm

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