BILLINGS — The doors were locked and the lights were out at schools across Billings as classes were canceled on Tuesday due to snow.
"The Weather Service referred to this as a unique storm. And I said, 'Can you define unique?' And they said, 'Just wait and see.' And I said, 'Okay, I get unique,'" said Greg Upham, superintendent for Billings School District 2.
The dark schools were not an unfamiliar sight on the snowy day. MTN News heard of at least 31 schools across southeast Montana closing for snow.
Snow days are rare for Montana schools, especially in mid-April. But when the snow piles up as fast as it did Tuesday morning, it's easy to see so many districts made the call to close.
"About 5 a.m., it really started coming down, then by 6:30 a.m. or 7 a.m. it was truly dumping snow," Upham said.
For Billings students, the storm brought an unexpected snow day. Some braved the blizzard to enjoy an afternoon of sledding at Pioneer Park.
Upham says Tuesday's snow day was the first since the 2018-19 school year, a distant memory for most kids.
"It wasn't because the conditions were so bad, it was because the snow was so deep on the roofs that it had plugged one of our elementary school's sewer vents, so we had to evacuate the school," Upham said of the previous snow day.
But many schools across the region did power through the snow and cold and still held classes Tuesday. Schools like Laurel, Roundup, Livingston and Big Timber, along with Cody and Sheridan Wyoming all held classes.
And Billings School District 2 will join them Wednesday.
With the plows out in Billings over the course of the day, Upham said classes are scheduled to resume as normal.
"We'll start at our regular time. It's going to take some time. I see they are out plowing the streets and that will help. There's so much snow on the streets and the drifts. I'm sure it will take some time. We'll start at our regular time and people should just take some extra time getting to school," Upham said.
Of course, the kids sledding at Pioneer Park said they would have liked to have one more day off, because they're going to have a long weekend anyway with Easter break.
However MTN News does know of at least one school that will still be canceled on Wednesday. Hardin public schools announced Tuesday night that they will be closed again on Wednesday.