The weather has made a lot of news this winter. Winter storms, gale force winds, flooded cities and landslides seem to be in every news broadcast. The case for climate change (resulting in more extreme weather - rather than it's gentler sounding cousin, global warming) has never been stronger. Some meteorologists are suggesting that due to climate change recent weather patterns are a better predictor of future weather patterns than older ones. This
means that predictions made from historic data ("an event like this only occurs once in a hundred years") will not be a good guide to the frequency of future extreme weather events.
There's a very old joke about the weather: everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it
But as a business continuity planner, there are actually some concrete things you can do about it:Choose where you are located
If you have a choice,
consider possible weather hazards when locating a new project. Don't locate new projects where extremes of weather can be reasonably anticipated. Don't locate on historic flood plains, coastal areas, or other areas where extremes of weather are increasingly likely to be experienced. Also take into account possible transport problems due to blocked road, rail, or air links.
Review your insurance policies
Insurance companies have two ways of dealing with a major threat:
charge a high premium for it, or exclude it from the policy. The competitive nature of the business makes excluding a threat to offer lower premiums a common tactic. Be particularly aware of this when considering flooding. There are several different types of flooding from an insurer's point of view. You might be covered for flooding caused by a burst pipe or a flash flood, but not covered if a nearby river breaks its banks or a seawall fails. Plan for Low Staff
Many weather situations make traffic difficult if not impossible. In addition, due to the wide area affected, employees may need to look after the own homes and families first. Rather like a pandemic, you need to be prepared to work with substantially reduced staffing. To ensure that sufficient staff are available for critical functions, look into cross-training staff so that they can perform each other's jobs in an emergency.Plan for Zero Staff
If you are unfortunate enough to be located in an area which could be in the direct path of a major storm, consider what you will do if the local government issues a mandatory evacuation order. Plan for Loss of Power
Be prepared for extended power outages due to wind, snow, or ice affecting power lines. If warranted keep a backup generator and a supply of fuel on hand. Ensure that the fuel is properly treated for long term storage, and that the backup
generator is regularly tested. Keep in mind that additional fuel may be difficult to get in the event of a major storm.
Don't Keep Anything Important in the Basement
Don't keep irreplaceable or expensive items in the basement or on the ground floor of buildings where flooding is a possibility. Not many people want to work in a basement, so often basements are used for data centers, or for storage. Remember that this is the area most at risk if flooding
occurs.Anticipate an Extended Loss of Power if you are Flooded
Power (including backup power) will likely have to be cut from the flooded areas for safety reasons. It may take some time before areas are dried out and installations are inspected and tested before power can safely be reconnected. If power enters the building at a a location which may flood, anticipate a total loss of power to the building.Buy Emergency Supplies Now
emergency supplies (eg. salt for melting ice on pathways, plastic sheet, plywood for protecting windows, batteries, flashlights, etc.) on hand. When a weather event occurs, it typically affects a wide area. Since many companies and individuals are competing for resources, emergency supplies sell out fast. The best time to stock up on emergency supplies is therefore when they aren't needed, before any event is even in the forecast.Further Reading:
New Jersey can't find any
salt to buyhttp://www.northjersey.com/paterson/Paterson_unable_to_solve_road_salt_shortage_as_next_winter_storm_nears.html
Floods set to become more common due to climate change (2012)http://www.reading.ac.uk/news-and-events/releases/PR476797.aspx
Will Climate Change Destroy New York City?http://www.livescience.com/37549-climate-change-new-york-city-nyc-global-warming.html
Impressive Daily Mail UK Storm