The Weather Channel has been naming winter storms for 12 seasons now and the 2023-24 season will offer a unique set with Archer, Cait, Noor, Qadir and Xenops to name a few. The criteria for named storms includes a national weather service storm, blizzard or ice storm covering a population of at least 2 million and/or covering an area of 400,000 square kilometers, or slightly larger than the state of Montana. Last winter, there were 22 named storms from November through April.
The Northeast corridor and, more specifically, West Point are susceptible to severe winter weather throughout these months, which makes it important to understand the procedures in place to protect community members and the workforce when adverse winter weather does impact the area.
The Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security (DPTMS) has the responsibility to monitor weather conditions and, with the assistance of support organizations, provide the garrison commander information and recommendations to help keep the entire West Point community safe. Weather conditions are monitored via the New York Alert, the state’s web-based all-hazards alert and notification system; the National Weather Service’s forecasts and warnings; alerts from the Orange County Emergency Operations Center; and local news outlets.
The intent is to remain informed about a potential storm, determine when it will arrive, then provide advanced notice and information to the garrison leadership. The decision-making process begins before 5 a.m. with a conference call among representatives from DPTMS, the Directorate of Public Works, Directorate of Emergency Services, Public Affairs, West Point Schools, West Point Army Housing, Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation, Logistics Readiness Command, Keller Army Community Hospital, and USMA Director of Operations (G3). The information gathered during this meeting allows DPTMS to provide a recommendation to the garrison commander who then decides the best course of action for the community.
Winter weather can change quickly in our area, and while some winter-related conditions may make it difficult to get to work, others create the need to modify operations at West Point. Severe conditions that involve sleet, snow and ice can constitute a situation where many employees are not safe reporting to work. The health and safety of all community members and the entire workforce are the prime concern when making adverse weather decisions.
During adverse weather conditions prior to the workday, announcements will be made as follows:
1. “West Point is CODE WHITE (All Day, Delayed Arrival, or Early Departure).” This announcement means employees have the option for UNSCHEDULED LEAVE or UNSCHEDULED TELEWORK. Employees must notify their supervisor of their intent to take unscheduled leave, or to perform unscheduled telework as defined in the employee’s individual telework agreement. Employees scheduled to telework on the day of the announcement are expected to begin teleworking on time or request unscheduled leave.
2. “West Point is CODE RED until XX (Delayed Arrival).” This announcement means employees will be granted excused absence (weather and safety leave) for up to the designated number of hours past the normal arrival time. Employees on pre-approved leave for the entire workday or employees who were granted unscheduled leave for the entire workday will not be granted weather and safety leave for the duration of the Code Red. Employees scheduled to telework on the day of the announcement are expected to begin teleworking on time or request unscheduled leave.
3. “West Point is CODE RED ALL DAY.” This means that emergency employees are expected to report for work on time. Non-emergency employees will telework if applicable or be granted an excused absence (weather and safety leave).
When adverse weather conditions develop during duty hours, the garrison commander or his designee may decide to institute the Adverse Weather Leave Policy for employees who are on duty at the time of the dismissal. Such decisions will be conveyed by DPTMS and G3 to all Major Activity Directorates who are responsible for notifying activities under their control.
Tenant unit commanders or their designee will make the decision for tenant employees, and individual activities (e.g., Band, DCA, DIA, Ski Slope, West Point Club, Thayer Hotel) have hotline phone numbers that patrons can call to determine if an event is impacted by weather. Employees on leave prior to Code Red remain in a leave status and NAF employees who are on leave move to administrative leave status. Ultimately, every employee best knows their limitations and abilities to handle their commute to work in wintry weather and is responsible to be aware of upcoming wintry weather events. Any concerns should always be discussed with their supervisor to plan accordingly.
West Point community members and employees can obtain weather, road conditions, and operations information by calling 845-938-7000, and by visiting the USMA Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WestPointUSMA/and the West Point Garrison Community Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/USAGWestPoint/. Weather information is also available by listening to local radio stations WHUD 100.7 FM and WPDH 101.5 FM.