Emergency planners score higher marks for recent snowfall

The ability to foresee harsh weather like snow and ice makes or breaks the emergency managers\' response. (WTOP/Kristi King)

Adam Tuss, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – It certainly wasn’t Snowmageddon, but the region’s response to the latest bout of winter weather is getting high marks.

“I think the region has made some measurable progress,” Dave Robertson, executive director of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments tells WTOP.

“The new Office of Personnel Management dismissal and release guidelines clearly have helped,” he says. “Also, I think the various partners — the transportation agencies, OPM and the weather service — are erring on the side of caution.”

Now, more than ever, there’s a feeling of “better safe than sorry” when it comes to winter weather events, he says. The decision made by OPM on Sunday night to delay the start of the workday on Monday is a clear example of that.

Emergency managers divide these situations into those that could be foreseen, called “notice events,” and those that are a surprise, or “no-notice events.”

“There’s no reason why this region can’t do a better job on notice events,” says Robertson.

Advanced planning is going to play a large role in future events, he says. In this case, the advanced call to delay the start of the work day on Monday allowed Metro to shift its rush-hour schedule, running more trains and buses later in the morning Monday.

“For a number of months, we’ve been working to improve weather plans and emergency preparedness, working with COG and other stakeholders,” Metro spokesperson Dan Stessel said in an email. “This is a product of that collaboration and planning. OPM gave us plenty of advance notice, based on the forecast, which enabled us to adapt accordingly.”

“Having time to adapt is key for us,” he says.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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