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News > Snow Call 101: Your guide to surviving the winter commute
Snow Call 101: Your guide to surviving the winter commute

Posted 9/21/2006   Updated 9/27/2006 Email story   Print story


by Senior Master Sgt. Bryan Martin
50th Civil Engineer Squadron

9/21/2006 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- During winter weather, one of the most important missions at Schriever is notifying base employees about road conditions and whether the base is open or closed.

Employees here can check several avenues through which they can access information: Call the Schriever Snow Call Line at 567-SNOW, check local television stations, tune into a local radio station, or point your Web browser to and click on "Snow Call Procedures."

If snow is falling or a major winter storm is expected, information begins flowing as early as 2:30 a.m. from the 50th Security Forces Squadron to wing senior leadership to report road conditions and determine a course of action. The 50th Space Wing Command Post will initiate an information recall to notify personnel of weather conditions.

Here's the process: When snow and ice conditions develop at Schriever, a team of experts from across the wing presents the wing commander with a recommended course of action to protect base personnel.

When questionable weather conditions develop, the on-duty 50th SFS flight chief will inspect road conditions on Enoch, Irwin, Curtis and Bradley roads and Highway 94. The flight chief assesses the local driving conditions and coordinates with key agencies including the law enforcement desks at Peterson AFB, the U.S. Air Force Academy and Fort Carson, as well as the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, the City of Colorado Springs and the Colorado Department of Transportation.

If road conditions are hazardous, the flight chief contacts the 50th SFS commander and presents a status brief to the 50th Mission Support Group commander.

Timely communication is the key element when determining road conditions and
base reporting procedures, said Col. Merrily Madero, 50th MSG commander. The entire process must be executed in about an hour to ensure timely dissemination of information to Schriever personnel; safety is the primary consideration throughout the process.

When conditions warrant, the 50th MSG commander will convene a formal teleconference with the commanders from the 50th Operations Group and 50th Network Operations Group. Once the group commanders agree, the 50th MSG commander recommends a course of action to the 50th SW commander and vice commander.

This decision process is designed to achieve decision from the wing commander by 4 a.m. so units can get the word out to the base populace before they get on the roads.

When the decision is made, several things happen in parallel. The command post notifies the 50th Civil Engineer Squadron, which activates the Schriever AFB Snow and Ice Control Plan to get the roads plowed and treated. Operations crews are notified as well as all support elements on the base. 50th OG and 50th NOG ensure the next shift of space operations crews do not travel until it is safe.

The command post updates the base snow line, 567-SNOW (7669) and the Schriever intranet and informs 50th SW Public Affairs of the situation. Public Affairs in turn updates the Flash News Web site,, with road conditions and base reporting instructions; Flash News provides information to local radio and television stations.

This same process is used if threatening snow and ice conditions develop during the normal duty day, on holidays or during the weekend. The objective is to provide timely information to ensure safe travel for Schriever employees.

If weather conditions deteriorate during the day, the same process is used to provide the wing commander information to make a decision for phased early release. Early release decisions are coordinated with 21st SW leaders at Peterson AFB to minimize the number of vehicles simultaneously released onto county and city roads. The key is to release vehicles in phases to eliminate traffic before roads become more congested with local traffic. Schriever personnel are released by zip code allowing those who live furthest from Schriever more time to reach their destination.

It is important that people remember to use operational risk management to minimize unnecessary risks when commuting back and forth to Schriever, Colonel Madero said. Knowing road conditions and reporting procedures is integral to that process.

If you have doubt about road conditions, don't take unnecessary chances. Call the Snow Call line or check the Web site.

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