by Anika Mittu ’19
MoCo Snow has become a defining brand in Montgomery County: a website and various social media accounts that students and teachers alike check for predictions on school cancellations because of severe weather. But for Alex Tsironis, the MCPS middle school teacher behind the brand, a thriving online persona all began with a bulletin board.
“[The MoCo Snow website] all started as something fun for a few of my students back in 2009/2010 as a prediction on a bulletin board. As my students left for high school, I made [the website] and social media accounts so they can follow along [with predictions], and eventually it moved on to teachers, parents, etc.,” said Tsironis.
Though Tsironis started the website as a way to keep former students aware of current predictions, the brand ultimately captured attention across the county. As of February 2019, the MoCo Snow website boasts over 43,000 subscribers, while the twitter account has 26,800 followers.
To express his predictions, Tsironis uses a five pencil model–with the chances of a day off increasing as the number of pencils increases from one to five. Tsironis posts an image of the number of pencils in his prediction after consulting numerous sources including weather models, current conditions, and prior severe weather situations that are similar to current ones.
On prediction nights, Tsironis may only get four to five hours of sleep, as he stays up until 11 p.m. or 12 a.m. to interact with twitter followers and wakes up at 4 a.m. But, he truly does not mind. “It’s something that I love doing, so it’s fun even if it gets hard at times,” said Tsironis. “I love seeing the excitement potential snow brings. I also love how it seems to bring everyone together… usually rooting for snow.”
Students seem to love Tsironis’ predictions just as much as Tsironis loves posting them. The night before a potential cancellation, senior Sinead Claffey checks the twitter account twice. “[MoCo Snow] definitely adds to the excitement because if he thinks it’s a high chance for no school, I won’t set my alarm,” said Claffey.
To continue growing his digital presence, Tsironis released a free iOS MoCo Snow app in 2018 and hopes to have an Android version available later this year.