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Mrs. McCue has a clue

Snow day, ice day or both? Just ask Mrs. McCue
Mrs. McCue
English teacher Sandra McCue shows a forecast model to her students illustrating average precipitation rates across the country.

If TV weathermen everywhere aren’t jealous, they should be. A local outdoor enthusiast with a keen interest in natural phenomena has stolen their thunder. Introducing South’s weather prophetess, English teacher Sandra McCue has built a reputation around her meteorological abilities.

McCue’s foresight took South by storm when she predicted a series of cold and ice days that interrupted midterms. However, with her zeal for birdwatching and science, McCue is anything but psychic.

“I’m just a curious person,” McCue said. “I’ve always enjoyed researching all kinds of things, and if I learn about something, I tend to want to know everything there is to know about it. I think weather is a little bit like that.”

Skywarn is a nationwide network of trained weather spotters who report storms. Members are required to complete a course through the National Weather Service (NWS). McCue earned her certification two summers ago, and she’s been putting her credentials to work.

“(McCue) is the English department’s official prognosticator,” English teacher Kevin Cox said. “When weather gets kind of rough, either via email or our department’s official group text, we will often ask, ‘What do you think? Are we going to have a snow day?’”

The English department relies on McCue’s predictions to plan around every weather-related teaching obstacle from class cancellations to freeway traffic, according to Cox. If McCue says it’s going to be rainy, the teachers know to leave earlier for work.

“She’s actually better than a lot of forecasters you see on TV, because sometimes they’ll hype and promote things even if it ends up not being very severe,” Cox said. “McCue is very down to earth and very matter of fact.”

Bella Leonard ’24, McCue’s former student, said McCue was more accurate than most weather apps, including the popular online snow day calculator. She described McCue’s ability as almost uncanny.

“We would all get really excited if she thought that we were going to have a snow day because she was the best at predicting it,” Leonard said. “If McCue said that we were going to get one, then we did.”

Forecasting is actually a methodical process. McCue said she operates on more than just intuition. In order to make her predictions, she said she analyzes meteorological data provided by the NWS, forecast models and the behavior of local birds, who she explained eat more than usual before a big storm.

“I look at (many signs) enough where I can kind of tell if something’s going to end up being an actual storm or if it’s more (a situation) like, ‘Oh, they’re hyping it up, but it’s not really going to be enough,’” McCue said.

At home, McCue said she uses the solar-powered weather station built into her roof to measure wind speed and temperature. The machine broadcasts data to her smartphone, allowing her to actively monitor conditions.

“There are so many elements to (the weather),” McCue said. “Just one degree of temperature can make all the difference.”

McCue said that while there’s no guarantee, February is traditionally a snow-heavy month, so the future holds the potential for more cancellations.

“The only thing is that once we’ve had a few snow days, the powers that be are less and less likely to want to call another one,” McCue said.

In the meantime, she will continue to be on the lookout. Staff and students anxiously follow her predictions in anticipation.

“It’s been raining a lot these past few days,” Cox said. “Guess we’ll have to ask Mrs. McCue.”

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