Argonne National Laboratory

Winter Weather FAQs

As Argonne prepares for the winter season, employees should be aware of the laboratory’s procedures and policies in severe weather events. Below are some of the questions that have been asked in recent years and their answers. Comments and additional questions are welcome; send them to

Q. How does the laboratory decide to delay the start of business operations or suspend laboratory operations due to weather concerns?
A. FMS-Grounds keeps laboratory management informed about road conditions and whether their personnel can keep the site’s roads, parking lots and sidewalks cleared of snow and ice. (Off-site conditions aren’t usually factored in, since those conditions can vary widely over just a few miles.) FMS-Grounds and laboratory management are also in contact with the National Weather Service Office and DuPage County Emergency Management. If conditions worsen to where laboratory management deems the site unsafe for travel, they will consult with the Argonne Site Office and recommend a course of action.

Q. When do the phone line and website get updated?
A. Any changes to Argonne’s operational status will be posted to the Argonne Info-Line (630-252-INFO) and on the laboratory’s website. If severe winter weather strikes overnight, these communications channels will be updated by approximately 6 a.m. or as early as possible, and as often as necessary thereafter. Those who live far from the laboratory may elect to delay their commutes until after the status updates; check with your supervisor if that situation is likely to occur.

Q. If the lab decides to delay the start of business operations or suspend laboratory operations that day, but I am running an experiment, can I still come in and do my work?
A. If the laboratory has suspended operations for the day, or will delay operations until later in the day, employees are highly discouraged from coming to the site. Travel will be hazardous both on-site and off-site. Keeping cars out of the parking lots helps FMS-Grounds clear them more efficiently. Cars may get stuck or go off the road due to snow and ice, endangering the driver and emergency responders alike. Personnel explicitly deemed essential by their line management should report for their assigned shifts.

Q. What about telecommuting or working from home?
A. Employees should never compromise their safety to try to get in to work. Non-essential employees should use their judgment to determine if they can make it safely to the laboratory and contact their supervisors for leave time or the authorization to work from home if they believe that they should not drive. Ideally, this conversation should be held well in advance of any anticipated weather event. LMS PROC-108: Telecommuting, available through Inside Argonne, addresses ad hoc work-at-home arrangements that may be applicable in connection with severe weather events. LMS PROC-108 includes details related to situations when employees may request telecommuting when the laboratory is open but there is a severe weather event and also situations where employees may be required to telecommute (or use vacation time) in connection with a suspension of laboratory operations. The appropriateness of telecommuting in connection with a severe weather event, like telecommuting arrangements in general, is highly dependent on the job duties of each employee and whether those job duties may be effectively performed away from the laboratory. 

Q. What will be the situation at the Advanced Photon Source?
A. The APS control room will be staffed. They are planning on having enough people on site to keep it staffed, even through shift rotations. The plan is to provide beam through the weather event; however, if there are problems requiring on-call personnel to come in, that may not be possible. Individual beamlines may or may not be staffed, although the intent is to do what can be done while ensuring the safety of the people involved.

Q. What will be the situation at the ATLAS facility?
A. The ATLAS control room will be staffed and beam delivery to the scheduled experiment will continue. Thus, the plan is to provide beam through the weather event; however, if there are problems having on-call personnel come in, that may not be possible. In this case, the accelerator and its equipment will be secured until access to the laboratory becomes possible. The intent is to do all that can be done while ensuring the safety of the people involved.