Wednesday, December 26, 2012

when to give up

I haven't done a weather post in a while...

The winter storm that snarled up a big portion of the US over the holiday reminded me of something. I've discussed giving up fieldwork because of illness before, but not giving up because of the weather.

We stop work if there's a thunderstorm for safety reasons. But thunderstorms generally pass through quickly, so usually it's only a break of less than an hour. Occasionally, I've broken off early because it's getting close to the end of the day anyway. But I don't remember actually stopping in the middle of the day and sending people home.

Other adverse weather slows work down and requires additional warm up/cool down breaks. But I've never actually stopped work for temperature variations.

If I have a big field crew, we tend not to stop for snow. I may stop the work early if the roads look like they'll be especially bad and it's the end of a day/travel shift. Of course, the problem with snow is that you can't up and leave if it's snowing. You'll lose supplies in the snow and never find them again, anything wet (say, from drilling more than 10 feet below ground surface) may freeze and get damaged, and equipment that's hidden and possibly frozen to the ground is a massive safety hazard. Everything needs to be secured properly, so I can't just make an announcement that we'll leave and try to come back and finish up later. Of course, this means that I've been caught in hellacious storms (like this one) driving 2-wheel drive pickups and vans.

Short answer, we work in all weather. It takes too much coordination and schedules are too tight for anything short of "get off the road" emergency declarations. It's just that sometimes, we need to be a little more deliberate in what we're doing...and we need to have the supplies to keep warm/cool/dry and safe.

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