Freezing temperatures delay, cancel schools

A NSCSD bus sits idle this morning / C. McDowell/CNYcentral

Freezing temperatures Monday caused more than 70 school districts to call in with cancellations and delays. Most districts who contacted us delayed the start of classes by two hours hoping that the sunrise would bring slightly warmer temperatures that were safe for students and friendlier to the diesel engines of school buses.

The North Syracuse Central School District , one of the largest in the area, started the morning with a two-hour delay, but officially closed when more than 20 of the district's buses would not start. Transportation Director Michael Janisch says the fuel was jelling. When that happens, it blocks the filter and starves the engine of fuel.

We run 104 buses every day and pick up almost 10,000 students, he says. Due to the fact if they got on the road, they might break down, we were not going to chance the safety of the students.

Janisch says the district is testing all the buses to make sure they TMre safe for Tuesday morning.

Other districts switched from delayed to closed as temperatures failed to rise fast enough or high enough. Meteorologist Peter Hall tells us Hancock International Airport reported a temperature of 13 below zero at 8:00 a.m.

Students in Baldwinsville were forced outside after a fire alarm went off at Baker High School around 8:30 a.m. Click here to read more on that story. Superintendent Jeanne Dangle says the district usually doesn't close unless temperatures drop to a windchill factor of -20 degrees. She says the district has some difficulty starting busses, but only about seven were affected. Most busses were fine.

Onondaga Community College delayed the start of classes, but it was unrelated to the cold. A power outage affecting about 1,600 customers in the Onondaga Hill area prompted the school to begin classes at 10:00 a.m.

We aren't alone in the big chill today. The Associated Press is reporting a similar tale across upstate.

Albany-to-New York City rail service has been suspended and several dozen school districts across upstate New York have canceled classes or are delaying their start because of the arctic cold.

The National Weather Service has issued wind chill advisories and warnings for much of the region. That includes the Adirondacks, where the low was 36 below in Saranac Lake early Monday morning.

Amtrak temporarily suspended rail service between New York City and Albany because the extreme cold affected signals and switches. Amtrak hoped to resume limited service between the two cities later Monday. Other rail lines are still running.

Many schools in areas along Lake Erie and Lake Ontario have called off classes, while some in eastern New York opened two hours late..

Information from the Associated Press contributed to this report.