KMC prepares for cold weather, driving conditions

As winter approaches, KMC drivers should be aware of how road conditions are assessed and reported and what impact changing and colder weather has on school and work center schedules.

“We want every member of the community to know where to obtain the most current information on the weather, road conditions and likely effects on school or work hours,” said Col Carlos Cruz-Gonzalez, 435th Civil Engineer Group commander.

Information sources
The primary sources for this information are American Forces Network Kaiserslautern, television and radio FM 100.2, AM 1107; and by calling 480-COLD or 479-TALK, commercial 06371-47-2653 or 06371-46-8255. During severe weather, television reports appear regularly as a message crawler on the bottom of the television screen.

Other sources of information include the KMC Commander’s Access (TV) Channel, which is only available to on-base residents, and the Ramstein Web page, which provides a scrolling banner identifying hazardous conditions: http://www.ramstein.

We remind everyone not to call base command post, law enforcement desks or AFN for weather related information. These organizations are busy coordinating critical, weather-related activities.

Inclement Weather Report
The KMC Inclement Weather Report is published in a standard format, regardless of the medium. This report consists of three sections: road conditions, schools and installation operations. It is important to evaluate all three sections of this report before deciding your course of action.

***image1***Road conditions
The first section of the inclement weather report focuses on road conditions for the immediate area around KMC installations and the surrounding main roads (A6, A62, B37, B40, B270). Secondary roads and village routes are not assessed – they may reflect conditions different than main roads. We ask members to keep that in mind prior to departing their homes.

Road conditions are classified in an easy-to-use color format. The four conditions are Green, Amber, Red and Black; see the chart for a quick description of each condition.

GREEN:Normal driving for all vehicles.

AMBER:Roads vary from mild to severe. All motorists are to exercise caution. One or more of the following may apply: packed snow, snow slush, snow less than 4 inches, black ice, visibility is 20 to 50 meters or 65-164 feet, and the temperature is -1 to 2 degrees Celsius or 30-35 degrees Fahrenheit.

RED:Roads are very hazardous. Driving government vehicles off base or post is limited to emergency and mission essential duties. Privately owned vehicle operators should refrain from driving unless absolutely necessary. Use extreme caution. One or more of the following may apply: snow drifts, snow greater than 4 inches, sheets of ice, visibility less than 20 meters or 65 feet and temperatures less than -1 degree Celsius or 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

BLACK:Roads are extremely hazardous to dangerous. GOV off base/post driving is at the discretion of the unit commander. Private vehicles should not be on the road. One or more of the following may apply: heavy drifting snow on road, more than 8 inches of snow, extreme sheets of ice, visibility less than 15 meters or 50 feet and temperatures less than -12 degrees Celsius or 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

The second part of the inclement weather report focuses on schools. This decision is made nearly three hours before school starts. Depending on the forecast, the KMC commander may delay the start of school by two hours. During that two-hour delay, the KMC commander may decide to close schools for the day. The decision to close schools will normally be made by 7 a.m. All decisions affecting school operations are sent out immediately through available information channels and the Department of Defense Dependent Schools’ chain of command.

Installation operations
The final section of the inclement weather report focuses on installation operations. Depending on weather conditions, the KMC commander may direct one or more of the following: closure of all work centers, early release, delayed reporting for people living on base or post, delayed reporting for people living off base or post, or delayed reporting for everyone.

There may also be a separate message directed at mission-essential people who are normally required to report for duty regardless of weather conditions.

Delayed reporting
The two-hour delayed reporting policy is designed with safety in mind and serves several purposes.

First, it reduces the number of vehicles on installation roads during the morning rush hour. With fewer cars on the roads, there are potentially fewer accidents, minimizing the need for emergency vehicles to respond during bad weather. Fewer cars on the road allows for a safer environment for mission-essential people traveling to work.

The delayed reporting policy is also designed with Mother Nature in mind – the weather may improve during the delayed reporting period, which makes traveling safer.

Finally, it’s designed to give employees an extra two hours to travel to work safely, without having to individually coordinate the delay with supervisors. People should discuss reporting requirements with their supervisors before inclement weather becomes a problem.

Early release
The KMC commander may authorize early release from schools and work. Notification of early release normally occurs by 1 p.m., but is dependent upon actual weather conditions. Once early release is authorized, AFN Kaiserslautern broadcasts the release time. Schools initiate closure procedures and early departure of buses. People released from duty should go directly home according to their commander’s discretion.

During the winter months, it is extremely important for all members of the KMC to stay alert and pay attention to the conditions.

“Every member of the KMC needs to be familiar with the inclement weather decision process to ensure we stay mission ready and to protect our families, friends and co-workers,” said Colonel Cruz-Gonzalez.

“Remember, the inclement weather report is just one tool to help you decide your best course of action when weather conditions take a turn for the worse. If in doubt, always take the safest alternative and keep your supervisor and unit informed.” (Courtesy 435th Civil Engineer Group)