Business Continuity and Natural Disasters – Thick Snowpack Holds Water and Potential Peril

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Business Continuity – Natural Disasters


Thick snowpack holds water — and potential peril

Business Continuity

Good  judgment comes from experience, and a lot of  that comes from bad judgment.” Will Rogers

Business Continuity – SUMMARY: From the Sierra Nevada and the Cascades to the northern Rockies, much of the West’s high country remains buried under a thick snowpack that is filling reservoirs and engaging dam operators in a nerve-racking balancing act as they watch for jumps in temperature that could turn all those scenic piles of white into raging floodwaters.

Spring rains have already caused flooding on the Missouri River as far south as Iowa, and much of the dense northern Rocky Mountain snowpack has yet to melt. “Any time from now on, folks need to be ready,” said hydrologist Kevin Low of the Missouri Basin River Forecast Center. “It’s not going to get any better for the next two or three months.”

Related story from LA Times

Analysis by Jim Satterfield, COO Firestorm

  Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.” More people die in floods than any other disaster type. The floods currently occurring include runoff and pesticides.

Business Continuity Impacts

Historically, we have viewed floods as temporary. Here today, gone tomorrow. Yes, the impacts could last longer, but the water receded quickly … not now. These floods will be here for months. The excessive snowpack will lead to an extended melt and constant continuing exposure. Land will be lost for productive use for the remainder of the year. Can your business survive without income for months or more? … Most can’t.

New Norm

The new norm shows us that weather patterns have changed — and not for the better. Frequency and intensity of storms and weather have increased. Colder, wetter winters are a fact of life. Hotter, drier summers create droughts and destroy crops.

We experience too much water where don’t need it, and not enough where we do. 2011 has brought records for both extremes. Yet, most have not adjusted the vulnerability/threat analysis or updated their business impact analysis to reflect the new norm. Black swans, the once in 100 or 500 year events, are the new norm. Lack of belief in man-made climate change does not eliminate the threat.

Action needed NOW

Recognition of the problem is the first step.

  1. When did you update your hazard matrix?
  2. Do you take an all-hazards approach?
  3. Are your plans current?
  4. Do you have an effective monitoring plan?

Business continuity programs are living documents, not binders on a shelf.

  1. Is your plan current?
  2. Are your people trained?
  3. Are your suppliers prepared?
  4. Are you sure?
  5. How do you know?

Firestorm Expert Council Member Lt. Gen. (U.S. Army, ret.) Russel Honoré states:

There is a 12 to 1 return on investment in preparedness. Everything costs more and impacts are greater than expected. Explaining what went wrong will not help your company. Your actions now will make a significant difference.


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