Snowday! Yay! Sorta….

Did you wonder why people were so grumpy on the metro last week? Why people kept refreshing their screens to see the latest operating status update from OPM? Or what the Capital Weather Gang’s forecasts say? Maybe some people brought their kids to work and left early cursing “snowdays” and fretting about “make up days” and you can’t completely understand why? Or they began obsessively following someone named Ryan McElveen on twitter? Let’s explain, beginning with “Welcome to the DC-metro region’s winter-related woes.”

A Random DC Street

Kinda hard to get around DC for a bit when this happens…. (via Jim Kelly)

For starters, and perhaps most important for Advanse interns – OPM stands for Office of Personnel Management. Their operating status determines whether thousands of government employees get to go to work on time, operate on a two-hour delay, work from home, take the day off, or go home early. And because DC’s economy is so tied to the government, an OPM schedule can affect non-government employees as well. Based on weather forecasts, it is OPM’s call to tell people whether and when to report to work. And if you lived in DC during Snowmageddon and Snowpocalypse, you’ll probably never forget the horrendous traffic jam that ensued when OPM told people to go home early, late in the day. It took some people several hours to get home. It wasn’t pretty.

Capital Weather Gang is the the Washington Post’s weather team. If you live in the DC region, you probably follow them avidly in the paper, online, on Facebook, and Twitter. Because their forecast is what helps OPM make a decision. They also help the school districts make a decision. What districts, you ask?

The Day After #DCsnowpocalypse #Thundersnow #snOMG #dc

Definitely difficult to get to work when this happens…. (via Shashi Bellamkonda)

The way schools work in the US, your kid goes to school in the district in which you live. And we are surrounded by some fairly large school districts. The Fairfax County Public Schools district for instance, is the 11th largest in the US, covers over 400 square miles, and serves some 180,000 students. That’s a lot of kids, bus schedules, employees, and oh yes, working parents who are affected every time there’s a snowday. And in the first three weeks of January alone, FCPS has had 4 snow days, and three days with two-hour delays.

Tough day at the office

Adorable. But what if they’re not angelically asleep? And you have to get work done? (via JonF728)

Keep in mind that OPM decisions, Capital Weather Gang’s assessments, and school closures don’t always coincide. Also, sometimes, the decision isn’t made until the wee hours of the morning you’re supposed to go into school or work. Furthermore, sometimes this feeds into, but doesn’t automatically affect people in the military, who take orders from their own chains of command – this in a town with a significant military presence, uniform and civilian. And now you know why DC has been, shall we say, a bit under the weather and somewhat grumpy for the last few weeks. With offices either mysteriously half empty, workers wistfully wishing they could have stayed home, harried workers trying desperately to keep children amused and quiet during conference calls ….

And since we still have two more months of winter to go, with more extremes of weather in store, we’ll leave you with this one helpful tip – never gloat that you got to stay home when others had to schlep in. It’s up there with bragging that your newborn sleeps through the night. Poor form, and guaranteed to attract the evil eye from your less fortunate colleagues!