A front-end loader is used to clear snow on Picatinny Arsenal during Winter Storm Orlena.
A front-end loader is used to clear snow on Picatinny Arsenal during Winter Storm Orlena. (Photo Credit: Todd Mozes) VIEW ORIGINAL

Winter Storm Orlena blanketed the greater part of the northeast region to include Picatinny Arsenal from January 31 to February 3, forcing a three-day post closure for snow removal operations to be conducted.

While the majority of the installation’s workforce continued to telework due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Picatinny Arsenal Department of Public Works (DPW), and Chugach Technical Solutions contractors worked around the clock to clear roads and bring the enterprise back to normalcy.

Snowfall reports estimate that 28.4” of snow accumulated on post as a result of the storm. The storm's maximum snow total was 36.1 inches in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. Wind gusts at times over 30 or 40 mph produced near whiteout conditions.

“We operated 24 hours a day from Sunday evening through Thursday night, utilizing an eight hour rotation of five 10 person crews, roughly 2000 total hours to complete,” said Rob Llewellyn, Public Works Manager, Chugach Technical Solutions.

Snowfall rates as high as three inches per hour were observed during the height of the storm on Feb. 1.

According to Llewellyn, close to 30 vehicles were put to use, along with a host of walk-behind snow blowers, and shovels, in order to clear roads, parking lots, and walkways.

“The largest challenge was the depth of the snow,” Llewellyn said. “Many of our vehicles were not effective in clearing this type of snow and larger trucks and heavy equipment needed to be utilized.”

With the entire installation impacted by the storm, mission essential functions were placed at the top of the list for plowing.

“We receive priorities from DPW who communicates with the commanding general and garrison commander,” said Trinidad Gonzalez Jr., Project Manager, Chugach Technical Solutions.

“Operations were definitely easier due to very little traffic but more complicated due to COVID 19 protocols requirements such as only having one person in a vehicle and sanitizing each unit after each shift,” Llewellyn added.