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AF Academy’s snow route helps mitigate winter weather

Map of Academy snow routes

10th Civil Engineering Squadron, Oct. 29, 2019

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY. Colo. — This year’s winter season was heralded-in by lots of snow, another reminder we need to prepare for snowfall and poor driving conditions at the Air Force Academy.

“After the past week and with the forecast for next week, it is clear winter has arrived,” said Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria. “This month’s snow events are a good reminder that winter weather conditions are back for Colorado. Our experts in the 306th Operations Support Squadron Weather Flight predicting a colder than average winter with above-average snowfall.

Silveria said high winds are also a hazard in the Front Range, creating whiteout conditions during storms and damage to facilities and infrastructure.

John Sutherland, pavements and heavy equipment supervisor for the 10th Civil Engineering Squadron, said the most important aspect of safe driving during poor visibility or bad road conditions is driving to match those conditions.

“At a minimum, reduce your vehicle speed by at least 10 mph when road conditions are hazardous or your visibility is limited,” he said.

Snow Route

Snow route signs are installed throughout the base, indicating the main thoroughfares or “snow routes.” These routes won’t change except for a major construction project. In this case, snow route changes are announced via email and on the Academy’s social media platforms.

The snow route map shows the snow routes and snow gate locations on secondary roads. Red roads, for emergency access, are the primary snow routes and are open 24 hours-a day, every day. “Blue” roads are the secondary routes. Overnight, these roads don’t receive the same attention as emergency access roads.

For safety reasons, snow gates at the entrance of secondary roads are not to be accessed when closed. Stay on the snow routes during and immediately after a snow event.

Delayed reporting or a base-closure is announced via radio and TV and on the Academy’s official, so check your local station before heading to work.

“If we have significant snowfall, the Academy will inform you of reporting times through the media,” Sutherland said.”

Late reporting, early release or a base closure, is designed for everyone’s safety. Automated closure or delay information, and road conditions, is available at 333-2800, the “Snow Call line.” Academy residents at other bases may follow reporting times for those installations.

“Never assume you’re ‘mission essential’ and report to work as an overabundance of traffic can be dangerous,” Sutherland said. “Snow crews need time to clear our roads and sidewalks before we get to work. Commander on the base determine who is mission essential, so report as directed and communicate with them if you have safety concerns.”

The Main Exchange, Commissary and Army and Air Force Exchange Service will open at designated late-reporting times. The Child Development Center will open at its normal time to accommodate the children of “mission-essential workers.”

Before inclement weather, snow crews may apply a liquid anti-icing chemical to prevent ice from sticking to the roads and sidewalks. The liquid may produce a temporary slippery effect. Before the morning rush hour, a granular chemical deicer is applied on hills, curves, stopping points and intersections.

“I encourage you to be ready and to familiarize yourself with our snow plan,” Silveria said.

Safety Tips

— Keep a windshield scraper and automotive snow brush.

— Keep a full tank of gas during winter. This limits condensation inside the fuel tank when it warms up.

— Make sure you vehicle’s tires have adequate tread-depth. Good all-season tires are worth the cost.

— Keep snack bars items, trail mix, MREs, foods with high calorie and high-protein food in your vehicle in case you’re stranded. Include candles, fire source like lighters and additional warm clothes, First aid kit, small camp shovel, road flares and a flashlight with extra batteries. Your cellphone is essential; try messaging if you have poor reception as this uses less energy from the phones battery and will often transmit while a call may not.

— Check the weather reports or call the Colorado Department of Transportation at 877-315-7623 for the latest road conditions. This information is updated hourly and will inform you major highways being treated for ice and snow removal. Another mobile website, cotrip.org, offers travel alerts for I-70, I-25 and other highways and roads throughout Colorado.

— Travel during daylight if possible and take at least one other person. Keep others informed of your travel schedule.

— Dress warmly. Wear loose‐fitting, layered and light‐weight clothing. Wet clothing loses its insulating value quickly and can accelerate hypothermia.

— Cold weather strains the heart. Shoveling snow or pushing a vehicle if you’re unaccustomed to exercising can cause a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse. Take frequent breaks when performing strenuous activities.

— Lookout for symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia.

— Stay in your vehicle if stranded. Don’t search for assistance unless you see a building close and you can take shelter.

— Hang a brightly colored cloth on the radio antenna.

— Run the engine for about 10 minutes each hour to stay warm. Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow and open a downwind window slightly for ventilation.

— Recharge your phone.