Weather Part II: Weather Monitoring as a Force Multiplier
Part I we discussed the ways weather factors can influence HazMat
incidents. In this issue, we’re focusing on optimizing the weather
monitoring capabilities as an integral component of the HazMat response
contingency planning, weather conditions play a major role in any
scenario – from the initial approach to the scene, to coordinating
staging areas, to the actual mitigation process. Prior to deployment,
a HazMat team member could be designated as the “weather coordinator.”
The CAMEO/ALOHA software technician is a logical choice because
they use the weather station’s data and have access to the Incident
weather coordinator and other team members should be well-trained
in the weather station’s operation, set up, and take down procedures.
The weather station’s quick set up and operation is paramount to
the initial mitigation process. These responsibilities can be easily
incorporated into training programs and deployment responsibilities.
this day and age of interoperability, new innovations have made
it feasible to disseminate on-scene weather information to multiple
using agencies. Many mobile command vehicles have satellite links,
wireless Internet, and wireless Local Area/Wide Area Network (LAN/WAN)
now possible to provide real-time weather readings to all echelons
of command, whether at the scene, or not. It’s also possible to
have multiple on-scene agencies receive official weather readings
from a single weather station, rather than have multiple agencies
with various different weather stations providing conflicting information.
Such confusion could result in misinformation and/or casualties.
should to be in place to disseminate weather information during
an incident – both up and down the chain of command. In addition
to incorporating weather data into the CAMEO/ALOHA software, the
Incident Command and emergency technicians should be notified of
initial and changing weather conditions throughout the incident.
team members and upper echelon leaders should be made aware of weather
monitoring capabilities and reporting procedures.
staging a HazMat incident response, primary weather concerns are
wind direction and speed. Operations should be staged from an upwind
position. Once Incident Command has been established with weather
monitoring in place, weather readings help identify the approach
route for arriving responders, help determine the type of mitigation
plan, and provide an evacuation corridor for victims and evacuees.
elevation, and sun data are entered into CAMEO/ALOHA, as well as
the type, quantity, source, and character of the chemical spill.
This creates a chemical plume dispersion plot – or plume model –
determining the toxic cloud’s width and distance downwind.
CAMEO/ALOHA does not provide a preliminary dispersion plot or provide
vector wind data during the initial stages; it may take up to an
hour to determine the downwind fallout area. WeatherMaster’s new
vector wind and downwind projection plots use current conditions
to project an initial plume corridor for immediate evacuation of
the potential contamination area. In this way WeatherMaster acts
as a force-multiplier – freeing up human resources and providing
vital information in the Incident Command’s decision-making process.
accidents or incidents involve casualties, emergency personnel must
triage victims in order to use the limited resources where they
will do the greatest amount of good. Triage by definition, is a
system of medical or emergency aid established to ration limited
medical services to care for the greatest number of patients as
areas may be set up anywhere and initial resources may not be readily
available. Water, shelter from the elements, and medical supplies
may be immediately critical to victim survival. Depending on the
circumstances, knowing the weather conditions can play a vital role
in dispensing resources and providing back up medical assistance
necessary to save lives.
with triage and mass casualty situations, emergency medical airlift
evacuation (Air Evac) operations may be necessary to quickly transport
critical patients to local hospitals and medical facilities. On-scene
weather readings becomes crucial in providing aircrews with real-time
weather data to help with aircraft lift computations, entry/exit
route strategies and flight path calculations, plus aiding in aircraft
conditions also play a major role in managing emergency resources,
including first responder and firefighter safety.
high temperature conditions, Heat Stress, Heat Exhaustion, and Heat
Stroke are primary threats to emergency responders.
suits do not allow for fresh air circulation and Personal Protective
Equipment (PPE) can become extremely uncomfortable in searing heat.
Heat Exhaustion not only neutralizes the responder, it also occupies
the personnel who rescue them taking them away from operational
alarm notification program monitors Heat Stress Index and then alerts
when user-defined thresholds are breached, notifying decision-makers
to take the necessary precautions to keep emergency personnel from
becoming victims of Heat Illness.
cycles are also established based on Heat Stress conditions to keep
on-scene personnel ready for duty. Under extreme Heat Stress conditions,
first responders may work only 20 minutes per hour while drinking
as much as two quarts of water to keep hydrated and sweating as
much as one and a half to two quarts per hour.
the HazMat Weather Monitoring
conclusion, the following steps can optimize weather-monitoring
capabilities for HazMat response and mitigation:
Identify potential weather-related risks
· Site selection upwind from the scene at a safe distance
· Determining points of entry to the scene
· Establishing staging areas for incoming crews
2) Designate a weather coordinator to assist the Incident Commander
in monitoring weather conditions
3) Establish procedures for:
· Weather station set up, take down, and operations
· Interface with CAMEO/ALOHA
· Disseminating weather information to all echelons of command
· Operating under extreme or hazardous weather conditions
4) Notify team members and leaders of weather monitoring capabilities
5) “Training is the key to preparedness and preparedness is the
key to success.”