He is the king of snow day predictions.
Five years ago, what started as a project to get kids to focus on watching the weather during their meteorology unit turned into a tradition. If inclement weather is expected, one can expect to find East Earth and Space Science teacher Larry Duff in his dark room with a zebra- print stretchy book cover over his head and his face pressed against a snow globe. And chances are, he’ll be summoning up his great-great grandmother, the Cherokee Indian snow princess.
That’s when East alumnus Jake Chestnut and a few friends took pictures and then tweeted Duff’s predictions under the twitter handle @Duffosaurus also known as “The Duff Report.”
“We thought it would be a good idea to make the account so we could spread his predictions a lot easier,” Chestnut said.
And not long after, Duff’s predictions “went viral” around West Chester.
“People all over the district emailed me asking for my prediction,” Duff said. “You know I’m not God, I’m not an official, I can’t predict the weather real well, but I do watch it closely so I make an intelligent prediction.”
East Tech Education teacher David Koger follows The Duff Report twitter account and will often text Duff about his prediction.
“My wife teaches in the district as well, and if the weather channel says we’re getting snow, I’ll get a text message from her saying, ‘What does Duff say?,” Koger said. “It has traveled further than this building, and the kids really enjoy it.”
When he’s performing his seance with the kids he might not actually be summoning up his great-great Cherokee Indian grandmother, but he does have a logical system behind his self- estimated 95% accuracy rate. After watching “four or five” weather channels to get a general idea of professionals’ predictions, first thing’s first: check the predicted temperature.
“If it’s cold, the snow will stick. If it’s on the border, it will melt,” he said. “I always figure with three inches, school will be closed unless it melts right away depending on temperature.”
Then he’ll check to see if the trucks have started spreading salt not only on the main roads, but also in the subdivisions the night before. Without the subdivisions cleared, he said, busses can’t get through and school is a no-go.
But it isn’t always easy being the reason some students choose to do or ditch their homework the evening before. For the times that he’s right, however, he’s happy just making his students laugh.
“The students love it. They love to watch me do that silly skit,” he said. “It’s fun, I’ve interacted with people I’ve never interacted with before [because of it.]”
As his last year with Lakota before retirement, Duff doesn’t plan on continuing The Duff Report from home, but hopes that a fellow teacher picks up where he leaves off.
“Once I get home, I’m going to have other things to do,” Duff said. “[I’m glad I could] do this for fun but also to get students focused on thinking about the weather.”