As the snow falls

  • Published
  • By Col. John E. Michel
  • 319th Air Refueling Wing commander
OK, it snowed last night and you might be asking yourself some questions.

What time do I need to report for duty, do the kids go to school today or do I just crawl back into bed and wait for spring? Well, I'm going to try and answer these and some other pressing questions that arise when those first snowflakes of winter drift to the ground.

As much as we may want to sleep until spring, the reality is, most days will be business as usual for the schools, as well as base operations. After all, this is North Dakota, and snow and cold are our hallmark.

On snowy mornings, a determination will be made by the base and school officials on closures or delayed reporting. Decisions to close or delay reporting will be broadcast as streamers, starting around 6 a.m. on local news channels and announcements through local radio stations.

What does delayed reporting really mean? For these purposes delayed reporting is based on a 7:30 a.m. start time, which is the first duty hour for most workers. This doesn't capture every shift and you will need to work with your supervisors for further guidance on your specific situation. The purpose of delayed reporting is to allow more time to clear vehicles and driveways, as well as safely make it to work, which by the nature of winter road conditions will simply take longer.

Delayed reporting also serves a second purpose, which is to allow road workers additional time to clear the main streets.

Decisions for early release of base personnel or base schools will be announced through local radio and TV stations. For early release of Eielson or Twining Schools, school administrators will attempt to contact parents. Parents of students in base schools are reminded to ensure the contact information they have left with the school is current and accurate.

If a decision for early release is made, it will often come as a "tiered" release with those living further from the base being released first.

The tiers are defined as follows:

Tier 1 consists of Grand Forks Air Force Base populace.

Tier 2 includes all areas within a 10-mile radius from Grand Forks AFB.

Tier 3 includes all areas within a 10-20 mile radius from Grand Forks AFB.

Tier 4 includes all areas beyond a 20-mile radius from Grand Forks AFB.

I want to stress there is no way to capture every situation or individual circumstance. Bottom line, we are all adults and each one of us is responsible for our personal safety. 

If you have a special circumstance, work with your supervisor or commander to ensure a good balance between your safety and mission accomplishment. 

For more information, log on to or call the Snow Line at (701) 747-7669.