SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
Once those first snowflakes hit the ground, most Airmen and workers understand there’s potential for a snow day on base.
The work to make that happen, however, is a process in itself that begins before inclement weather occurs.
Michael Rosseau, 50th Civil Engineer Squadron heavy repair section chief, said the staffing decision to send out snow plows begins days before a forecasted snow and ice event.
“Depending on the forecast, we’ll make the decision to pre-treat the pavements with liquid anti-icer,” Rosseau said. “The object of anti-icing is to prevent the bonding of snow and ice to the pavements. This allows us to return to bare pavement conditions quicker. Anti-icing also reduces the deicer needed, reducing environmental impact, manpower and overall cost.”
The amount of people required for the task depends on the amount of snowfall.
“We take into consideration: road surface temperatures, precipitation amounts and form, wind conditions, sunlight exposure, surface conditions and duration of the event,” Rosseau said. “Based on this information, we can deploy up to 11 pieces of snow removal equipment to clear roads and parking lots.”
Lt. Col. Christopher Teke, 50th civil engineer squadron commander, assesses the roads and parking lot conditions on-base and determines how weather may affect the commute or base access.
According to the snow and ice control pre-season brief, snow and ice removal on roads and parking lots occur immediately after snow fall.
Pedestrian surface snow and ice removal occurs before 7 a.m. and prior to 6 a.m. for Building 60 and the Child Development Center.
Teke said the security force squadron commander focuses on road conditions off-base and makes a decision of how safe travel is to and from Schriever and said, in regards to their plowing and deicing efforts, their focus is strictly on base.
“El Paso County or the State Highway Department takes care of the roads outside the gate,” Teke said. “To prep, we typically preemptively place magnesium chloride on the roads as a deicer or a product called ‘Ice Slice’ (a sand/salt mixture), and then plow snow accumulation as necessary.”
Once snow falls, several people collaborate to determine if roads and conditions are safe before choosing to close base.
“Ultimately, it is a call about personal safety in getting to and from Schriever,” said Lt. Col. Bryan Best, 50th Mission Support Group deputy commander. “It is a combination of current and projected factors around Schriever and Colorado Springs to include: road conditions, weather, wind, visibility and particularly with delays, time for CE to clear base roads and parking lots. We also coordinate information and decisions with Peterson, the Air Force Academy and Fort Carson leadership.”
Much of this congregation occurs in the early hours of the morning to determine whether a snow day will be required.
“If not already decided the night before, the 3:40 a.m. snow call involves mission support group commander (or CD), civil engineering squadron commander, security force squadron commander, and a Public Affairs representative,” Teke said. “This initial group will formulate a recommendation for delayed reporting or cancellation. Once we form a recommendation, 50th mission support group commander will consult his Peterson and U.S. Air Force Academy counterparts to see what they are thinking or recommending.”
Officials at Ellicott are also contacted as 50th CES monitors District 22’s decision to keep schools opened or close.
Best said parents travel from multiple locations to drop off children or handle other business on base and it’s important to mind their safety.
“Ellicott school busses come on base to pick up kids at the Child Development Center and Tierra Vista Communities housing,” Best said. “It is important we are aware and in sync on any delays, restrictions or closures.”
For information during inclement weather, download the AF Connect app and enable notifications for the 50th space wing Also, visit Schriever Air Force Base on Facebook to stay updated.