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      2-19-2013: Another Snow Day

      Here is a view of the ice-encased village of Oymyakon in northeastern Siberia.

      It was another day off school for many U.P. students in the northern U.P. as the big storm of yesterday slowly wound down. The storm was a dandy. It was declared the worst storm in the western U.P. in 17 years by our weather watcher in Atlantic Mine. Not far away, Redridge in Houghton County reported 20 inches of wind-whipped snow from the storm. The storm was just as ferocious farther east. A good foot-and-a-half of new snow fell in many parts of Alger County with as much as 30 inches around Shingleton. Strong winds created a blizzard. As of this morning, road crews in Alger County were working to clear off 6 to 8-foot drifts from M-28 along with many stranded vehicles.

      As far as I can recall, this winter has produced the most days off in the history of the public school system, at least in Marquette County. The closings were brought on by three major snowstorms as well as an icing event in late January. Then there was the cold spell in January. Frankly, those off days had me scratching my head. I know, the safety of young children is an issue; but what about the closures at NMU during this period? Donâ??t college-going adults have enough personal responsibility to dress adequately for the weather and get themselves to class?

      I hope the extra caution these days is the product of our litigious society and not some over-riding nefarious plan to soften the population and create a society of malleable â??sheepleâ?? that are easily controlled. Forgive me for my conspiratorial thinking; I get disturbed at times when I see personal responsibility and freedom usurped by well-meaning authority figures.

      As a point of comparison, letâ??s look at another part of the world where the threshold for calling class due to cold is a â??littleâ?? higher. Oymyakon, a village in far northeastern Siberia, is nicknamed â??The Pole of Cold.â?? This article in the British on-line newspaper, The Mail, describes what itâ??s like to live in the coldest permanently inhabited settlement in the world. There, students are kept home from school if the temperature drops to 62 below zero!