Here is another in our continuing series of posts about what’s going on around Rochester.
The ironically-named winter storm “Vulcan,” one of the worst blizzards since 1999, forced many businesses in the Rochester area to close on Wednesday. With a plethora of advanced warnings and state-of-emergency announcements, County Executive Maggie Brooks said that the first official blizzard in about 15 years “could have been a lot worse for us.”
For almost the entire day, snow covered the roads as plows made sure that the major thoroughfares were passable. Nearly 4,000 Rochester Gas and Electric Corp. customers wound up losing their power during the blizzard, but all had their service restored by the evening.
Though the storm wasn’t really so bad in the end, its peak had wind gusts as high as 49 MPH that whipped small, frozen sleet horizontally at anyone brave enough to venture out. By 9 p.m., 12.6 inches of snow had fallen at the Greater Rochester International Airport, according Bob Hamilton of the National Weather Service.
Most businesses had to close up shop early, as many employees either didn’t come in at all or left work early before conditions worsened. While it’s difficult to assign a dollar amount to how much productivity was lost to Vulcan, the L.A. Times reports that this winter’s severe weather lost the national economy nearly $50 billion in lost productivity and 76,000 jobs.
Though Rochester has earned national notoriety as one of the toughest cities in America that can handle a snow storm, according to Bustle.com, most local business owners would like not to lose so much money in productivity and data loss that might result from power losses. While these losses can be small, they usually prove catastrophic. In fact, 93% of businesses that can’t operate their data centers for 10 days wind up going bankrupt within a year of the incident. Not only that, but nearly half (43%) of companies that undergo such a disaster never restart their operations after the event.
Basically, blizzards have the ability to bankrupt a business.
However, recent technological advancements have allowed many businesses to adapt. Of particular worth is cloud computing. Basically, it allows people to access their files from any device instantly. This means that any spreadsheets or documents left at work can be worked on at home quickly and easily. Then, when employees return to the office after the weather’s subsided, their files are all updated. The cloud allows employees to work from home as efficiently as they would from the office.
As there’s an additional three to five inches being forecast for the rest of the storm, which will bring the total snowfall to between 15 to 20 inches, it’s important to remember that Vulcan was not a one-off event. These storms are guaranteed to happen again. With that in mind, it’s paramount for business to think forwardly about ways technological upgrades will help them adapt to the brutal weather.