Chance of snow creates flurry frenzy
January 7, 2010
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- You might want to read the owner's manual on that old snow blower in the back of the garage. The National Weather Service is forecasting a 40 percent chance of snow tonight on post and in surrounding areas.
John Coynor, post force protection officer, said that the biggest problem Fort Jackson faces with this winter storm warning is not the half inch of snow predicted to accumulate, but the ice on area roads.
"Ice storms could cripple us," said Coynor. "It's a killer. It accumulates on trees; limbs could fall down and knock the power out. We could lose power for days.
"Road conditions are the biggest hazard," he said. "When the snow falls, roads get slippery. But when the sun melts the snow, the water freezes and we get black ice. Black ice, that's the real danger out there."
Black ice refers to a thin coating of glazed ice on a roadway. It gets its name because although it is transparent, it most often forms on black asphalt roads and is not easily seen by drivers or pedestrians.
Georges Dib, chief of the Directorate of Public Works' Operation and Maintenance Division, said in the case of a winter storm, there's enough salt and sand to keep Fort Jackson's roads and walkways safe for two to three days.
But the DPW is equipped with two loaders with shovel plates installed on the front end to scrape roads, and two dump trucks equipped with sprayers to scatter sand on the roadways, and salt on walkways and steps, Dib said. The DPW does not have snow plows.
"We're not equipped like we're in New York or upstate," Dib said.
"There's no reason to spend money on snow plows for the snow storm that comes to
South Carolina only about every 10 years," Coynor said. "For a lot of South Carolinians, when they wake up and see that it has snowed, they think, 'Aw, it's so pretty.' They light up the fireplace, have some hot cocoa and celebrate it like a holiday."
Post employees and residents should tune in to local radio or television stations for the status of Fort Jackson operations, he said. Any change to operations due to the weather will be determined by the commanding general.
School closings or delays will be decided by the garrison commander and notification will be sent through automatic telephone calls to parents, as well as the local media.
Notifications will also be available on the Fort Jackson homepage at www.Jackson.Army.mil and via Twitter. Follow www. twitter.com/FortJacksonPAO to receive updates.
In the likelihood of a snow or ice storm, the command group may require only key and essential personnel to come to work. Don't call force protection or the Emergency Operation Center to find out if you have to go to work, Coynor said. It's up to supervisors to decide who is key and essential in their own departments.
In the case of a power outage, and if there's a need, Soldiers are prepared to open up and operate shelters, Coynor said. But he cannot recall a time when there has been a need to set up a shelter because of a winter storm.
For any infrastructure problems, such as power outages or bursting pipes, call the DPW to request a service order at 751-7684.