Homer is watching football on TV when Marge and the kids suggest going to a French-Canadian circus (called "Cirque du Puree", a play on Cirque du Soleil). Homer reluctantly agrees, but when the family arrives, a demonic blizzard hits Springfield, and the performance is cut short. Much to Bart and Lisa's dismay, everyone has the day off, except for Springfield Elementary School. At school, Skinner shows them a boring Christmas film from 1938, called "The Christmas That Almost Wasn't But Then Was". They watch the movie for hours until the DVD overheats and catches fire, but Skinner puts it out. When Skinner dismisses the kids, they find that they are snowed in, trapping them in the school with Skinner and Groundskeeper Willie, much to their horror. Skinner tries to call for help, but the phone lines are down. When the students become uncontrollable from cabin fever, Principal Skinner's army instincts kick in, and he begins ruling them with an iron fist.
At night, Bart tries to escape by tunneling through the snow, but Skinner catches him. Skinner tries to collapse the tunnel, but it caves in on him, burying all but his head. The kids tie him up in a dodgeball sack and gag him. Then they run wild, even getting into a safe with all of their permanent records. Upon learning that Skinner makes $25,000 a year, and knowing that he is 40 years old, they figure Skinner is a millionaire. (40 years x $25,000 / year = $1,000,000) When it's pointed out that Skinner also makes money painting houses in the summer, they amend their estimate of his wealth to "billionaire".
Meanwhile, Homer and Flanders use a "snow-plower" (Ned's car with Ned's roofing attached to the front as a plow) to save the kids. They get frozen in ice after hitting a fire hydrant, and Homer's repeated gunning of the engine causes carbon monoxide to flood the car. Flanders and Homer get high from the fumes and wildly hallucinate. Homer hallucinates about belly dancing women who wait on him. They receive a message from Nibbles the school hamster, send out by Skinner, and head for the school. They crash into a salt silo, melting the snow and rusting up the car. The car exhaust makes Homer hallucinate again, making him see Lisa as a camel and Bart as a dancing girl. As Homer tries to kiss the "dancing girl", Bart tries his best to escape, causing the car to crash. Lisa, (as a camel), then says "Merry Christmas from the Simpsons", finishing the episode.
Behind the Laughter
Following its home video release, "Skinner's Sense of Snow" received mostly positive reviews from critics and fans.
In his review of The Simpsons: The Complete Twelfth Season, DVD Verdict's Mac McEntire wrote that, while he prefers "down-to-Earth" episodes, the more "outrageous" episodes like "Skinner's Sense of Snow" are the ones that are "standouts".
He added that the episode "provides a lot of solid 'cool kids versus dorky adults' comedy", and that the setpiece was the best part of the episode. Matt Haigh of Den of Geek described the episode as "gold", and considers it to be one of the season's best episodes. The staff of The Journal, while reviewing The Simpsons - Christmas 2 DVD set, described the episode as "memorable", and John McMurtrie of the San Francisco Chronicle cited it as "great".
Elizabeth Skipper, another reviewer for DVD Verdict, wrote that most episodes that center around Skinner are "a sure thing", and that "Skinner's Sense of Snow" is no exception.
Both Aaron Beierle and Jason Bailey of DVD Talk argued that "Skinner's Sense of Snow" is one of the best episodes of the season. On the other hand, giving the episode a mixed review, Colin Jacobsson of DVD Movie Guide described the episode as "mediocre". Although he found the children's revolt against Skinner amusing, he argued that the premise was not used to its full potential. He concluded his review by calling it "a fairly average program".