MoCo Snow Q&A

Leyla Akselioglu, Staff Writer

The Rampage sat down with MoCoSnow creator, Alex Tsironis, to gain insight on the popular local website dedicated to predicting school cancellations and delays. RHS students submitted questions for Tsironis. This transcript has been edited for clarity and length.


What made you want to start making predictions about school cancellations? (Junior Jadiah Piatt)

I loved doing it when I was a student in MCPS, and then I became a teacher and I still loved it. I would always do the predictions for my students in our health class and I would, on like a bulletin board, reveal it at the end of class. And when those students ended up going to high school I made a website so they could follow along, and with that came the social media and stuff like that.


How does it feel to have this large of an influence and follow amount? How did your follower amount build up?  (Junior Faizaan Shirazi)

It feels awesome! I remember the first year I got Twitter I had reached a thousand and I was like, “Oh my goodness, a thousand people like care about what I have to say about the weather.” And now I think it’s over 26,000 and it’s unbelievable; 26,000 on Twitter and there’s 14-15,000 on Facebook and then 38,000 people- or 42 now, thousand people subscribed to the website. So they get the updates when they come out, and I like that it went from just some of my students, to students and teachers, to students, teachers, parents, and now it’s like people that have nothing to do with the schools still care about the predictions.


Have you ever been wrong about a prediction? And if so, why? (Sophomore Jaxon Lee)

Yes, I’ve been wrong. I think overall it’s up to eight incorrect predictions, and it’s usually just because I think we’re going to be off and we’re not. It’s rare that it’s the other way around, that I think we’ll be on and we’re off. Sometimes it’s a very tough decision to make for MCPS and we have to wait ‘till 5 A.M. and obviously I have to sleep so I can’t monitor the roads from 2 A.M. to 5 A.M., so I just make my best guess the night before, and unfortunately sometimes it’s wrong.


Is there a systematic method you use to determine your predictions? If so, can you describe it? (Sophomore Andrew Campion)

I mean, it’s not systematic. I look at what a bunch of different weather models say, what local media has to say, and then I look at similar situations in the past. I’ll look at like Tuesday of 2014, we also got one to two inches that fell over night, and on that day we delayed, so I look at that and I make my decision based on that. The MocoSnow app has specific percentages, and people are like “How do you know that it’s only a 53% chance?” I don’t. I make that number up. You know it’s a number that I think, it’s a little higher than 50, not quite 55, so I say 53 or something like that. There’s no specific reason why it’s 81%, or 27%, with the pencil it’s a little more general. It’s usually based on what’s coming, what’s fallen and what happened in similar situations in the past.