Be Winter Weather-Ready This Season with Mass Notification

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Winter Weather-Ready

According to the National Weather Service, damage from winter storms exceeds $1 billion annually. Your organization needs to have the right education, plans, and tools in place to protect your people and property. Severe winter weather can come in a variety of forms, and each requires a unique response plan.

As an NOAA Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador, Singlewire Software is dedicated to providing insight and best practices to organizations that help them prepare for severe weather. In this blog post, we’ll outline how a mass notification system can help your organization prepare for different kinds of severe winter weather.

Develop a Communication Plan

To develop an effective communication plan for winter weather, your organization needs to identify the different types of weather it needs to prepare for. This will vary depending on where it is located, but here are some of the winter weather events you may want to consider.

  • Blizzards – Occur when strong winds cause blowing snow and whiteout conditions.
  • Snow Squalls – Produce sudden white-out conditions, falling temperatures, and icy roads. These events are usually short-lived (about 30-60 minutes) and are extremely intense.
  • Black Ice – Often prevalent at night during freezing temperatures following rain or snowmelt.
  • Strong Winds – Can often cause damage.
  • Floods – Can be caused by heavy rain, melting snow, or ice jams which can occur when chunks of ice buildup and prevent water from flowing downstream leading to rapid rises in winter levels.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, and many of these occur with varying degrees of severity. For example, winter storm alerts are issued at three different levels by the National Weather Service. Here is the difference between each level:

  • Winter Storm Warning – Confidence is high that a winter storm will produce heavy snow, sleet, or freezing rain and cause significant impacts.
  • Winter Storm Watch – Confidence is medium that a winter storm will produce heavy snow, sleet, or freezing rain and cause significant impacts.
  • Winter weather Advisory – Light amounts of wintry precipitation or patchy blowing snow will cause slick conditions and could affect travel if precautions are not taken.

It’s important to advise people within your organization to get into the habit of checking the forecast to anticipate weather changes. This will help them plan for expected conditions and minimize the impact of any operational changes that occur due to severe winter weather.

Explore more winter weather-readiness resources

Leverage Mass Notification

To help with winter-weather readiness, many organizations utilize a mass notification system to send alerts about approaching severe weather and advise people on actions they can take to stay safe. Using a mass notification system, your organization can automatically monitor CAP feeds from the National Weather Service and configure parameters to trigger alerts when certain criteria are met. Parameters can include the geographic region that is most likely to experience a weather event and the type of weather event that could be the most harmful to your people and operations.

When the mass notification system identifies that matching criteria it can begin alerting people about approaching weather. Notifications can be sent to an entire organization, or to a select group of individuals who can assess the event and determine appropriate next steps. Alerts can be sent as text and audio to IP speakers, IP phones, desktop computers, mobile devices, digital signage, and more. Leveraging different notification methods makes it much more likely that people receive the message in a timely matter and take action.

With winter weather, having advance warning can be particularly important. Organization leaders can determine whether or not to shut down facilities early and send people home so they don’t get caught in the storm. This can also be used if a storm occurs overnight and people need to be advised not to attempt to come in due to inclement weather. Roads may be hazardous, so keeping people at home helps mitigate risk.

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