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Blizzard Planning for US Cities

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How to plan for a blizzard in a major city or metropolitan area .
1 review about Blizzard Planning for US Cities

How to plan for a blizzard - the basics. 12/30/ 2010

  • May 3, 2011

By Dr. Joseph S. Maresca

The famous blizzard of 1888 occurred from March 11th through the 14th. Snow fell up to 3-4 feet in New York, New Jersey, Conn. and Massachusetts. Huge drifts were reported and some covered entire houses. (1)

Drifts were reported to average 30-40 feet, over the tops of houses from New York to New England, with reports of drifts covering 3-story houses. Severe floods occurred throughout the New York City area and in Brooklyn in particular. Roscoe Conkling (October 30, 1829 – April 18, 1888) was a New York politician who served both as a member of the United States House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. He helped draft the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. He died after falling ill from walking in the NYC blizzard.   (2)

The blizzard of December 26, 2010 paralyzed NYC . Every major train line experienced delays and some did not run trains in both directions. Ambulances were stranded in the streets and some motorists had to abandon their cars. Blood donors were snowed in and thereby prevented from donating blood throughout NYC.

A blizzard by its very nature is chaotic. The best that can be done is to limit the disruption through advanced planning, historical research and the cooperation of the public.

Here is what to do if stranded in a blizzard.

Before you commence any winter trip, verify the travel conditions from the start of your trip to the destination . Do not travel on closed roads or highways. If you get caught in a blizzard, stay in the car. Disorientation or hypothermia may happen right away in blowing and drifting snow.  The best advice is to stay inside your vehicle to provide the optimal shelter. While safe inside the vehicle, you can do the following:

o utilize the cell phone to report your position to emergency personnel

o place a colored flag on your antenna   i.e.  red, orange or other bright color

o turn on emergency lights or flashers

o maintain and utilize a car kit to stay warm

o maintain a working flashlight and lock de-icer

o wear warm clothing and/or keep a blanket in the car

o stay in the vehicle until help arrives

o light a candle to help keep warm

o run the vehicle on the hour to keep the interior warm

o clean snow from the exhaust pipe to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning

o move your arms and legs to enhance circulation

o stay alert and if more than one person is present- alternate sleeping periods

There are steps you can take to winterize your car. i.e. Make certain that the anti-freeze is kept at a proper level.  Keep a spare container of anti-freeze in case the car overheats temporarily.

Maintain an empty gas container in the event you run out of gas. Make certain that the battery is in proper order and replace it prior to the winter season, if necessary.  Do not use a battery past the guarantee period of the manufacturer. 

In addition, install new battery connections at the commencement of the winter season. Battery cables are prone to oxidizing due to accumulated moisture. In addition, have the auto mechanic check the connections to the starter and alternator prior to the winter season. In addition, utilize winter-grade tires. Always keep a complete toolkit available, as well as a spare tire.

Municipalities can utilize a Contingency Plan and Disaster Recovery Plan to trigger teams of specialists to act in unison before losing too much time in an emergency.  A Contingency Plan specifies key personnel and equipment which needs to be put into use when certain predefined events have occurred. One of the many things to consider are temporary curfews until storm conditions subside.  A curfew will limit the number of people and cars on the streets until the Contingency Plan can be put into place.

Special SNOW EMERGENCY ROUTES can be designated so that crews can concentrate their efforts on major mass transit and hospitals initially. The objective is to give residents in all municipal neighborhoods access to vital services as quickly as possible.

There are computer algorithms in operations research which can help allocate equipment and personnel optimally under emergency conditions. Queuing/Waiting Line algorithms may be employed to assign personnel and equipment given limited resources and emergency condition constraints. Assignment algorithms may be utilized to compute the shortest route to an emergency.  Linear programming may be utilized to allocate resources optimally and at a minimum cost.

Advice Giving algorithms in artificial intelligence may be utilized to accumulate the experience of vital emergency staff. The Knowledge Engineer polls the various municipal experts and updates the Knowledge Base accordingly.

1) http://www.nycsubway.org/articles/1888-blizzard.html

2) http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=c000681

Joseph S. Maresca Ph.D., CPA, CISA, MBA: His significant writings include over 10 copyrights in the name of the author (Joseph S. Maresca) and a patent in the earthquake sciences. He holds membership in the prestigious Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society and Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society.  In addition, he blogs and reviews many books for Basil & Spice. Visit the Joseph S. Maresca Writer's Page.

How to plan for a blizzard - the basics. 12/30/ 2010

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