APG Destructive Weather Working Group plans for snow, ice days in advance

Nothing is left to chance when it comes to planning for the winter season

APG News file photo

It’s that time of year again. It’s dark when you leave for work—it’s dark when you head home from work. Lethargy sets in as days get shorter. Walking to your car is sometimes a painful experience as Jack Frost stings your cheeks and numbs your fingers.

According to the calendar, winter doesn’t officially arrive for another three weeks. However, there’s already a chance for snow throughout the Mid Atlantic region this weekend.

As the APG Directorate of Public Works gears up to respond to winter weather, the APG workforce should also prepare.

Sound preparation begins with being informed about potential delays or closures affecting the installation. While it is important to know where to go to get the information, it is also important to understand how the decision is made.

The Directorate of Public Works wants installation drivers to understand that each weather event, while unique in its own way, is addressed by teams of forecasters, emergency responders and decision-makers hours, and sometimes days, ahead of time.

Detailed plans exist, outlining the procedures to be taken before, during and after a snow event, including the make-up of APG’s snow removal teams.

The ultimate purpose of having a workable plan in place is to ensure the installation is open and operational, said John Fink, deputy director of public works.

“This is a government and military installation, and the government loses millions of dollars a day when installations are unable to achieve operational status.”

Fink said nothing is left to chance when it comes to planning for the winter season which begins in the early fall.

“We talk about last season’s plan and we get with the tenants to map out priorities, mission requirements and other concerns,” he said.

According to Fink, the garrison ‘s planned response to weather events is distributed to all concerned parties and includes five basic steps:

  • 48-72 hours prior: National Weather Service forecast for severe/inclement weather is received.
  • 11-12 hours prior: APG Destructive Weather Working Group assembles, assesses forecast/impact, plans and then provides recommendation to garrison commander.
  • 6-8 hours prior: Destructive Weather Working Group reassembles and repeats previous step with new/current information.
  • 4 hours prior: APG commander coordinates with APG leadership on decision.
  • Decision Dissemination: DPTMS disseminates decision on APG status through Emergency Operations Center resulting in notifications through news outlets and social media; impacting tenants and building custodians; garrison directorates; the Commissary; Exchange and FMWR.

Response personnel include far more than DPW. Meteorologists at the Aberdeen Test Center; law enforcement, fire and medical responders from the Directorate of Emergency Services; the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security; as well as Kirk U.S. Army Health Clinic, post child development centers, the Commissary and Exchange, and facilities, such as the gyms and recreation centers, run by Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, and others make up the working group that assembles in the Emergency Operation Center.

During a snow event, one of DPW’s primary roles is to assess how quickly its snow teams can achieve three priorities in terms of clearing roads and snow removal:

  • Priority 1: All direct mission support 24/7 emergency operations; primary roads, child development centers, and major garrison support facilities
  • Priority 2: Enough parking cleared to accommodate 75 percent of the normal working staff; secondary roads; MWR; Commissary and Exchange
  • Priority 3: General clean-up of post; 95 percent capacity parking; clean up and maintenance.

The target, he said, is that Priority 1 is completed before the post opens and team members are well into Priority 2. As designated teams work Priority 1 areas, others are working Priority 2, he explained.

“Usually, if it’s recommended to open [the installation] by 4 a.m., we’re pretty close to wrapping up Priority 2,” he said.

A snow removal team of about 45 to 50 personnel at APG South (Edgewood) uses the same priority system.

He added that the few people realize the installation does not have an assigned snow removal crew. With the exception of contractors hired to clear specific areas, all are DPW volunteers.

“These are electricians, carpenters and laborers who volunteer for snow removal,” he said.

Members of Team APG looking for the most up-to-date installation operational status during a weather event should visit the APG Facebook page at www.facebook.com/APGMd. Individuals may also call 410-278-SNOW (7669).