My colleagues and I, along with the rest of the world, watched with horror the disturbing images of the “˜Ride the Ducks’ tour boat tossed about like a toy before sinking in Table Lake in Branson, Missouri last month. This dreadful incident serves as a reminder that proactive weather safety planning must be a priority for businesses to prevent loss of life and reduce risk from hazardous weather.
The storm was accurately predicted by both the government weather services and America’s weather industry and provided ample and actionable weather insights in plenty of time to prevent damage to property, harm and most importantly, this terrible loss of life. What happened in Branson, is a heartbreaking example of what can go wrong — and how quickly it can go wrong — when severe weather strikes.
If you are in business today, weather must be a factor in your contingency planning. The World Economic Forum ranks severe weather as the #1 risk to business globally, illustrating the urgency for severe weather safety action plans.
Companies must have a predetermined and coordinated weather-related safety action plan and a trusted partner to help them know when to enact it. This incident shines a spotlight on the critically important need for companies, especially those which deploy a workforce to locations away from a central hub or office — especially when outdoors — to understand and be able to react to the potential impact of hazardous weather events for specific locations. The good news is that outcomes such as the unfortunate events in Branson and others can be avoided.
Leaders in the weather industry work with companies to provide hyper-localized, tailored expert weather forecasts, warnings and insights for their specific business needs. Take, for example, the fact that it is not safe for an electrical power-line installer or repair worker to be up on a bucket truck when winds exceed proscribed safety limits at or around 40 mph. AccuWeather can set weather warnings for 40-plus mph winds down to a specific GPS location where work is taking place. It can alert a company, with down to the minute regarding precipitation forecasts and predicted amounts, so crews out on location know down to the minute how long it’s safe to work and receive automated alerts to warn when it won’t be. This not only helps protect the organization’s people and property, but also works to increase productivity, as production time is used as efficiently as possible.
And today it’s easier than ever to keep teams and crews on remote locations informed of weather events—especially when we can get accurate, constantly updating weather information on every conceivable electronic device and platform today, including the one almost all of us carry around in our pockets and utility belts. Alerts and warnings can be deployed directly to a team member’s cell phone or vehicle for information relevant to their needs and specific location.
In this day and age, businesses have no excuse for not being prepared in advance and for not being aware of the severe weather risks for every facility they operate, and every location they send their teams to, whether those risks involve sudden severe weather events, thunder and lightning storms, wind, snow, ice, flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes, or a wide range of other life-threatening weather events. Businesses must plan accordingly to keep people safe and out of harm’s way and to protect property and assets and minimize their liability. They should not assume weather is not a threat just because it is an unusual risk for a particular location or season or because they have operated for decades without a severe weather-related incident. Just this past February, for example, tornadoes impacted businesses in Kentucky and Pennsylvania, which AccuWeather predicted earlier and more accurately than other sources.
Meteorological experts that specialize in serving companies can help clarify and analyze the severe weather risks that affect your businesses and help you develop a safety plan that evaluates all potential impacts specifically tailored to your people, your business and your facilities. Once businesses have such a plan, they must ensure everyone knows their roles and responsibilities and are empowered to act when hazardous weather threatens. Businesses must also be confident they are getting the best weather insights possible to activate that plan at the right time to ensure safety, and that decision makers must pay attention to that information, if and when it becomes necessary.
For the sake of safety, act today. Know the severe weather risks that affect you and your team, develop a clear plan for how to safeguard your people and property before severe weather hits. And then, in advance, make sure you have access to the most accurate weather forecasts, warnings and insights, so you can activate that plan and make the best decisions possible when severe weather is a factor.
About the author: Jonathan Porter is vice president of business services, General Manager of AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions. He is a meteorologist and a professional member of the American Meteorological Society, directs all aspects of AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions’ continued global expansion across all industries, including insurance, retail, transportation, manufacturing, entertainment, financial, energy, emergency management, and many others.