The hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005 have left some nasty scars on the memories of Southwest Airlines Employees and Customers - not to mention on those ravaged areas of our country. Like most companies that do business in areas of the country that are prone to be affected by Mother Nature's tropical fury, Southwest Airlines has a Response Plan to help orchestrate our Company's operational efforts and Customer accommodations for the upcoming hurricane season (which begins June 1).
Because we can't prevent a hurricane (or snow storm for that matter) from happening, we have to have an organized/efficient method to react to the untamed conditions that are likely to ensue. Orchestrating a plan of action requires thorough preparation, flexibility, patience, and determination on all levels in order to meet the Company's overall objective: To closely monitor the foreseeable forces of nature that could potentially cause concern to our traveling Customers; Employees; and/or disrupt our operations, and to coordinate a Company Gameplan in response to a forthcoming weather event.
To uphold our professional responsibilities, while at the same time meet our personal commitments, Southwest Airlines has a dedicated Weather Task Force that is plugged in around the clock as soon as a storm develops. The timing of the storm plays a huge part in decisions that the Task Force makes, and we rely on the expertise of our Weather Guru (who is a certified Meteorologist and works with the National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center) to help us navigate through what can be an unpredictable set of circumstances.
When a storm's probability to significantly disrupt our operations becomes likely, the Task Force will implement the Company's Weather Disruption Response Plan. With the goal of putting a method to the madness (if you will), the Task Force utilizes an outlined "phased" approach and set of procedures to chart the various stages of the storm. Because the circumstances surrounding each storm are always different, our Response Plan has "built in" flexibility so changes can be made quickly, which allows the Task Force to be nimble and streamline the development and communication of the Company's Gameplan to our Internal and External Customers.
Southwest Airlines Weather Disruption Response Plan is designed to evaluate all operational and nonoperational Department needs; to provide the necessary support to help secure our equipment and facilities; to coordinate temporary staffing at each affected location while our local Employees tend to their families; to make adjustments in our scheduled service and preparations to relocate our aircraft; and to publish our Customer accommodations. After the storm passes, a similar process is utilized to restore our schedule service, and help our affected Employees pick up the pieces as soon as possible.
If you live in a part of the country that is susceptible to tropical storms and hurricanes, here are a few things you can do to help get prepared for the upcoming hurricane season:
- Know your home's vulnerability to storm surge, flooding, and high winds.
- Know your evacuation routes.
- Replace the batteries in your radios and flashlights.
- Have a handy supply of fresh water and canned foods that will last for a couple of days.
- Get plenty of fuel in your vehicle days before the storm is expected to make landfall.
- Monitor the storm with NOAA Weather Radio.
- Develop your own plan of action for your household.
- Heed the advice of the local authorities, and follow their instructions if you are told to evacuate.
For more information about tropical storms and hurricanes, I encourage you to visit the National Hurricane Center's Hurricane Preparedness web site.