Why are Windsor and Detroit experiencing this cold snap so differently?
Life is relatively normal in Windsor, while Michigan has declared a state of emergency
There's no question, it's cold outside.
Today, Windsor broke the cold record for Jan. 30 when the temperature dropped to –21.7 C at 7 a.m.. The previous record was –20.6 C, set in 1951.
But there's an interesting contrast in how people along the border are handling this extreme weather.
In Michigan, today's cold snap has resulted in the governor declaring a state of emergency. Schools and universities are closed. Restaurants and libraries are shut down. Even the U.S. Postal Service suspended delivery.
But a mere 750 metres across the river in Windsor, life is relatively normal.
Sure, some cars groaned before starting this morning. And furnace repair and plumbers are probably getting more calls than usual.
However, businesses are open. People are at work. Even the school buses are running.
Why are we reacting to this weather so differently?
Glenn Maleyko is particularly suited to have some insight.
The LaSalle resident is a dual Canada-U.S. citizen who heads Dearborn Public Schools, one of the largest school systems in Michigan's Wayne County. He ordered the closure of his schools Wednesday because of the extreme cold.
"It was really based on student safety," he said. "We were projecting these temperatures that were so low, and I'm worried about students that may be out on the street; a bus may be late, a bus may break down."
Maleyko's own children, however, had to go to school —though he did drive them, instead of making them wait for the bus. That's because they both attend schools here in Canada, run by the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board.
When asked why people in Michigan are reacting so differently to the record-breaking cold, Maleyko points to what he calls the "hype" generated by traditional and social media as a key factor, noting that media outlets at both the national and local level have been talking about the impending cold for days.
"I think it is cultural," he said, noting that he's noticed more pressure from parents for schools to close now than there was a decade ago. "The ratings for 'storm's coming' — it's a huge impact."
"And then when the governor declares a state of emergency, that puts a lot of pressure on all of us [to close]" he added.
Tap on the player above to hear Maleyko's full conversation with Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre.