REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- You get emails from emergency operations centers on post about it, interruptions of programs on the TV and radio about it, and folks talking about it in the next cubicle. What is it? The weather. And we've had lots of it in 2011.

There are more than 36,000 employees at Redstone Arsenal, many of whom are affected by inclement weather while driving, walking outside or getting children to and from school. When bad weather hits, workers will be notified, but not everyone will understand what the notifications mean.

The following is a breakdown of the inclement weather notification plan that most of Redstone uses to inform the work force about the status of the post. This information is derived from the Department of Defense Civilian Personnel Manual and the Redstone Arsenal Regulation 690-2, Appendix G.

If the installation is closed or there is a delayed opening due to inclement weather prior to the beginning of the workday, the Directorate of Emergency Services, Garrison commander and/or the Installation Emergency Operations Center will contact the AMCOM/Garrison Public Affairs Office. The public affairs office will contact various media to request that they announce post closures or delays. Also the PAO will contact all the other organization's PAOs so they can share these decisions through their organization's information channels.

Redstone can never fully close due to some of the missions here, and the number of people who live on post. However, if it is announced that the post is closed prior to the beginning of the workday, non-emergency employees will be granted excused absence for the number of hours they were scheduled.

It is within the administrative discretion of each commander or director to close all or part of an activity and administratively excuse employees without charge to leave. It is strongly advised to know how and from whom you will receive your notices. Does your organization or office use an email blast, or a phone calling tree, and will the notification come from your immediate supervisor or someone else? Make sure you share your information with the appropriate people in your organization so that you will receive the most current notifications.

Sometimes the notification will be a delayed arrival. If a decision is made to delay the opening of the installation until a designated hour or to delay arrival times for employees for a specific amount of time, employees reporting for duty will be excused for the specified time of delay. So if the announcement is a two-hour delay and you normally report for duty at 7:30 a.m., then you can arrive at work by 9:30 without being charged leave. The safety of Redstone employees are the first priority of all the commanders and directors, so taking that extra time to arrive at work safely is strongly advised.

If inclement weather should result in a decision to release employees from duty early, before the regular close of business, only those employees on duty at the time an early dismissal is announced are entitled to the excused absence. Employees who are already on approved leave when early dismissal is announced are not entitled to the excused absence.

The Garrison IEOC is considering using a zone schedule to release employees in the event of early dismissal from work due to bad weather. A zone schedule has been used in the past at Redstone with the egress of employees and was effective in a safe and swift process. At the time of this writing, the updated zone schedule was not available. However, the network of emergency operations centers across post will have the most current schedule and will assist in notifying employees quickly with this information should the need arise to implement it.

If all employees attempt to leave post at the same time, gridlock and other traffic problems may occur, and may place numerous people in danger. The bulk of the work force on Redstone works along the Martin Road corridor. Releasing all of the highly populated buildings at once may create more hazardous conditions than the inclement weather. With a zone schedule for early dismissal, clear and concise announcements would be given in a timely manner so that employees could quickly and safely leave post.

Because the zone schedule will utilize building numbers and street names, be aware of your building number and/or the street name where your building is located. Knowing this information will assist you in knowing which zone your office falls under.

During inclement weather conditions, supervisors are encouraged to have a liberal leave policy. Check with your supervisors to see what policies your organization has in place for these circumstances.

This article does not include all possible situations or personnel leave policies which may occur. Questions regarding excused absence and leave should be directed to your servicing employee relations specialist in the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center.

Accompanying this article is a card you can cut out and place in your purse or wallet, or keep at home and in your desk. The information on one side includes the ways you can get updates on the status of the post, including a toll free number, the Redstone Arsenal website, and Facebook and Twitter sites -- all are updated regularly during inclement weather events. The other side has room for you to include your supervisor's phone number, or others you may have to call with notifications and/or accountability. Plus, there is a line to include your building number which will assist you with the zone schedule for a safe transition off post due to bad weather.