16 Feb

The Story of a Midwest Snow Day

The hullabaloo starts like normal. Four days before, local news meteorologists warn about low and high pressure areas colliding to create a Midwest snow day.

Two days before, the waiting game begins. How many inches will we get? What side of the Interstate will get hit worse? Everyone cross-checks the weather updates on not just the local TV channels, but their favorite online weather sites and the National Weather Service.

The day before, people flock to stock up at grocery stores. Snow day French toast (milk, bread and eggs) being the meal of choice. However, the bottleneck at the peanut butter section could mean P&J is a close second.

Then the day comes. The cloudy sky casts a gray tint over the neighborhood. The anticipation accelerates. The weather radar slows. Waiting, watching for the snow. The tension grows tighter until the clouds silently rip and flakes drift down.




Four to six inches later, the snow day arrives. Heralded by the news ticker scrolling along the bottom of the TV, seeing your school or business name on the list is like winning the snow day lottery.

In a culture that celebrates the busiest and most stressed individuals, a snow day creates a temporary boundary for me that I find difficult to set for myself on other days: Taking the time to relax and recharge without out feeling guilty.

After coming home from work, on regular days, there’s still dinner to make and chores to finish and words to write for the WIP. Then, weekends are filled with various activities involving family and bigger house projects.

Who has time to snuggle in bed with the pets/children? Drink hot chocolate and read a book? Watch those guilty pleasure morning TV shows?

Snow days are the perfect excuse to do all of the above and more.

As a writer, I wonder if the characters in our stories need snow days, too? Shannon Hale in her middle grade book, The Princess Academy uses a snow day to trap her protagonist Mirri and the other girls in their school, which leads to them being kidnapped by bandits. Their escape attempts and subsequent rescue by their families successfully drives the tension of the last half of this Newbery Honor Book.

Are there ways to use weather to heighten the tension in our WIPs?

Like the run on groceries, how does a Snow Day change your character’s routine? Are they a journalist who must go out in the snow and report on the news? Or a snow plow driver pulling an all-nighter? Or, will they get the day off? If so, what will they do with the unexpected free time?

Is there a place in your story to have a snow day? It may just be the boundary your character needs to propel the story forward.


  • Sarah:
    This is a great idea. I could actually use this idea in my YA WIP–the shooting novel. It takes place in February in the Midwest. Very interesting. . .thank you! :)

    • Thanks, Margo. I’m glad it was helpful. I think your characters in the shooting novel could get into a lot of trouble or out of a lot of trouble with a snow day. And with it being based in the Midwest, that’s completely believable.

  • I believe I see a snow day in Alder and Cece’s future. Great post. Lots of fodder to think about.

So, what do you think?