Like clockwork, once the first snow flakes hit the ground Baumholder residents reach for their phones and inundate the U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder command group and military police with an avalanche of questions like “Are the schools closed?” “Is the post closed?” “What facilities are closed and which are open?” “Is it safe to drive to the PX or commissary?”
Up front, community residents should not call the military police as the influx of calls will tie up the phone lines and prevent their timely response to a possible emergency.
The initial panic that ensues with the first snowfall of the season was not as intense last year, mainly because the snowfall was not as severe.
Confusion breaks out annually when residents begin to try and interpret the definition of the color coded road conditions that are reported by AFN and who they apply to.
During adverse weather conditions, people often mistakenly believe a road condition advisory such as “Amber” or “Red” applies to all motorists. This is not the case. Here are a few facts that may help.
Just the facts
The most common weather related report heard over AFN radio and television and other alert channels pertains to road conditions. A road condition report applies only to military vehicles and restricts operators to various degrees of travel. It does not apply to civilian vehicles. Motorists traveling to work in their own cars should use road condition announcements to help them take appropriate safety measures when traveling to and from work.
Some AFN affiliates will report actual road conditions, like icy, slippery, snow covered, etc., instead of color code conditions for military vehicles. These notices may be used by motorists driving their personal vehicles to determine appropriate travel plans.
AFN Kaiserslautern broadcasts weather and road conditions for numerous communities so it is important that listeners make note of the conditions for their area.
Although the AFN Kaiserslautern affiliate stands ready to keep Baumholder residents abreast of the latest weather and road conditions, the local terrain and the actual weather conditions themselves may prevent some community members, especially those living off post, from receiving a clear AFN signal. It is therefore recommended that all community members keep the telephone number of their unit handy (or the numbers listed in this article) in case they are not able to receive the AFN signal.
Another announcement often heard during adverse weather is a delay in reporting to work. If, for example, AFN reports that all Baumholder personnel are authorized a two-hour delay in reporting to work, this means that motorists have two additional hours to report to work. It doesn’t mean roll over and go back to sleep.
The intent of a delay is to allow persons who don’t live close to their work a reasonable amount of time to report to work in a safe manner. Those who live on post or do not commute are expected to report to work on time.
The third and most extreme action a commander may take is to close an installation as a result of dangerous weather conditions. This means that all facilities are closed – including schools, commissaries, exchanges, and shoppettes. It does not mean everyone has a day off to go shopping or run errands. For one, all these places will be closed. People should not be out on the road during extreme inclement weather.
During a post closure or a delay, military and civilian mission-essential personnel should coordinate their reporting time with their chain of command as appropriate.
Another aspect of closures and delays is the accountability for missed work hours. Military members do not need to record this downtime. However, if a military member was on leave during a closure, that day will be counted as leave.
Civilian employees are placed on administrative leave during a post closure. Those on leave during a closure will remain on leave, just as military members. This applies to American and local national civilian employees.
A post closure does not affect the leave status that a member might be on during that time. Civilian employees who don’t live near their place of work may determine on their own if they can make it to work or not.
If civilian employees think it is unsafe to travel, he or she must report that time as regular leave (except during a post closure) and tell their supervisors. The bottom line is: use common sense.
When bad weather hits, tune to AFN and watch the Baumholder Information Channel for the latest
Command determines closures, delays
By Ignacio “Iggy” Rubalcava
U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder Public Affairs Office
Despite the many advisories, briefings and the gradually cooling temperatures, the first white flakes and icy roads catch many who are not used to inclement weather by surprise.
Persons new to Germany and to inclement weather conditions will find that the radio will be their best friend and source of up to date weather information. When inclement weather hits a community, the road conditions and any delays or cancellations in work, schools or other community services as determined by the local commander are promptly reported to AFN radio.
By about 6 a.m. the AFN affiliate in Kaiserslautern begins airing inclement weather conditions and other pertinent information.
When inclement weather is expected AFN radio will also issue advisories so that people may plan accordingly and take the necessary precautions.
The weather has been rather mild this year but Baumholder traditionally receives its first offering of snow some time in November.
Where to call
To obtain road conditions during duty hours, call your unit or the USAG Baumholder operations officer at 485-1530.
After duty hours, call the USAG Baumholder staff duty personnel at 485-6150 or 06783-6-6150.
On Smith Barracks, Wetzel housing and Neubrücke housing areas, residents can tune to 106.1 FM for local weather and road conditions.
Where to listen
Persons commuting to Baumholder from the Kaiserslautern area can pick up AFN Kaiserslautern by tuning their radio to 100.2 FM.
During extreme weather conditions AFN Kaiserslautern will simulcast on their AM signal so residents may also listen to 1107 AM for information about weather and road conditions.