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Thursday, January 21, 2021

 Winter Weather Preparedness & Response

Arctic freeze, heavy snow, high winds, blizzard conditions, freezing rain, and flooding are winter’s challenges to maintaining a safe and operational facility. Before winter weather watches and warnings are broadcast, prepare your facility and your employees. Preparations now can save costly damage to facilities and equipment and maintain business operations.

A snowplow on the streets of Denver during a blizzard. (Photo credit: FEMA)

Winter storms caused $2.1 billion in insured losses in 2019, compared with about $3 billion in 2018, according to insurer Munich Re and reported by the Insurance Information Institute[1]. The costliest U.S. winter storm, occurring March 11-13, 1993 affecting 24 states, caused $5 billion in losses[2]. Winter storms and cold waves are the third leading cause of natural disaster losses behind severe thunderstorms and flooding. 

The impact of major snowstorms, blizzards, and ice storms on business operations can be significant. Direct costs of property damage from freeze-ups and structural failures and the cost snow removal are quantifiable. Loss of sales when manufacturing and distribution operations are shut down due to loss of utilities or supply chain disruption are harder to quantify.

Ice storms can have deadly and crippling impacts over a wide area. The January 1998 ice storm that affected Upstate New York and Northern New England resulted in 44 deaths and caused $1.4 billion damage in the U.S. and $3 billion in Canada. Ice accretion of 3 inches was reported, and widespread power outages lasted weeks. Ice storms have impacted southern states, and The Great Ice Storm of 1951 impacted a 100-mile-wide swath from Louisiana to West Virginia.[3]

Facilities are especially vulnerable to freeze-ups when planned reductions in production, shutdowns, and vacations occur. Reduced use of space heating, reduced or no heat from production equipment, and few or no personnel on-site to monitor temperature and respond to freeze conditions contribute to losses.

Read the latest Preparedness Bulletin to read more about:
  • Winter Preparedness
  • Preparations for Arctic Freeze and Winter Storms
  • Precautions when Extreme Cold is Forecast
  • Response During Winter Storms
  • Safety During and After the Storm

[1] Facts + Statistics: Winter Storms, Insurance Information Institute, https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-winter-storms

[2] Ibid

[3] “The Nation’s Worst Ice Storms,” Weather.com, January 11, 2017

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