Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center

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Mount Weather
Route 601, Loudoun / Clarke counties,
near Bluemont, Virginia, U.S.
MountWeatherFEMA.jpg
Mount Weather, with the Shenandoah Valley in the background
Type FEMA command center, permanent Executive Branch substitute
Site information
Controlled by U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Site history
Built Unknown
In use 1959–present

The Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center is a civilian command facility in the U.S. state of Virginia, used as the center of operations for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Also known as the High Point Special Facility (HPSF), its preferred designation since 1991 is "SF".[1]

The facility is a major relocation site for the highest level of civilian and military officials in case of national disaster, playing a major role in U.S. continuity of government (per the Continuity of Operations Plan).[2]

Mount Weather is the location of a control station for the FEMA National Radio System (FNARS), a high frequency radio system connecting most federal public safety agencies and U.S. military with most of the states.[3] FNARS allows the president to access the Emergency Alert System.[4]

The site was brought into the public eye by The Washington Post, when the government facility was mentioned while reporting on the December 1, 1974, crash into Mount Weather of TWA Flight 514, a Boeing 727 jetliner.[5]

Location[edit]

Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains,[2] access to the operations center is available via Virginia State Route 601 (also called Blueridge Mountain Road) in Bluemont, Virginia.[6] The facility is located near Berryville, 48 miles (77 km) from Washington, D.C.[7]

The site was originally opened as a weather station in the late 1800s.[8] It was used as a Civilian Public Service facility (Camp #114) during World War II.[9][10] At that time there were just two permanent buildings on the site: the administration/dormitory building, and the laboratory. Those buildings still stand, supplemented by many more modern buildings.

The underground facility within Mount Weather, designated "Area B", was completed in 1959. FEMA established training facilities on the mountain's surface ("Area A") in 1979.[11]

The above-ground portion of the FEMA complex (Area A) is at least 434 acres (176 ha). This measurement includes a training area of unspecified size.[11] Area B, the underground component, contains 600,000 square feet (56,000 m2).[7]

Evacuations[edit]

According to a letter to the editor of The Washington Post, after the September 11 attacks, most of the congressional leadership was evacuated to Mount Weather by helicopter.[7][12][13]

Between 1979 and 1981, the National Gallery of Art developed a program to transport valuable paintings in its collection to Mount Weather via helicopter. The success of the relocation would depend upon how far in advance warning of an attack was received.[14]

In the media[edit]

The first video of Mount Weather shot from the air to be broadcast on national TV was filmed by ABC News producer Bill Lichtenstein, and was included in the 1983 20/20 segment "Nuclear Preparation: Can We Survive", featuring 20/20 correspondent Tom Jarriel. Lichtenstein flew over the Mt. Weather facility with an ABC camera crew. The news magazine report also included House Majority Thomas "Tip" O'Neill and Rep. Edward Markey confirming that there were contingency plans for the relocation of the United States government in the event of a nuclear war or major disaster.

Both Mount Weather and The Greenbrier were featured in the A&E documentary Bunkers. The documentary, first broadcast on October 23, 2001, features extensive interviews with engineers and political and intelligence analysts, providing rare insights into the secret installations. The documentary compared The Greenbrier and Mount Weather to Saddam Hussein's control bunker buried beneath Baghdad. The documentary features interior video of The Greenbrier as well as the Baghdad bunker, which survived direct hits from seven Joint Direct Attack Munition bombs during the Battle of Baghdad in 2003.

Author William Poundstone investigated Mount Weather in his 1989 book Bigger Secrets.

In popular culture[edit]

Mount Weather is mentioned extensively in Milton William Cooper's 1991 book Behold A Pale Horse.

The novel Seven Days in May mentions a facility called Mount Thunder, a reference to Mount Weather, but the road descriptions in the book make it quite clear that it is the same facility.[15]

A facility similar to Mount Weather is featured in the beginning of the 2002 film The Sum of All Fears, based on the Tom Clancy novel of the same name. The fictional U.S. president is taken to a facility located inside Sugarloaf Mountain in Maryland during a rehearsal of emergency operation plans following a Russian nuclear attack.

Mount Weather was mentioned as the emergency facility in the case of a Soviet nuclear attack from Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis in the 2000 film Thirteen Days.

In the final episode of The X-Files, entitled "The Truth", ex-FBI agent Fox Mulder enters the Mount Weather complex, which is controlled by a shadow government.

In the 2008 remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, Klaatu's robot is taken to Mount Weather for analysis.

In the episode of Earth: Final Conflict (Season 2), entitled "Message in a Bottle", Mount Weather is a hideout of a group of United States soldiers against the Taelon aliens.

In the Vince Flynn novel Memorial Day, the main character Mitch Rapp recovers a nuclear bomb brought to Washington, D.C., by terrorists. Unable to disarm the device, and without enough time to get it clear of the area, he transports it by helicopter to an evacuated Mount Weather where he sends it by elevator to the deepest level and seals the facility. It detonates and the blast is contained, sacrificing the facility, but saving the surrounding area.

In the 2002 film xXx Mt Weather serves as the command center for the NSA's secretive spy program headed by Samuel L. Jackson.

In the 2012 video game Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Mount Weather is referenced by the automated bus driver in TranZit of the Zombies game mode. This is significant since the Zombies storyline in Black Ops II picks up after a catastrophic event ravages Earth and the world is consumed by a zombie apocalypse.

Mount Weather is the attempted landing site in the beginning of the post-apocalyptic 2014 TV series The 100.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Gup, Ted (December 9, 1991), "Civil Defense Doomsday Hideaway", Time: 26–30 
  2. ^ a b "Fire Departments" (PDF), The Lay of the land: the Center for Land Use Interpretation Newsletter (Culver City, CA: The Center for Land Use Interpretation), Spring 2002: 6–7, retrieved 2008-04-03 
  3. ^ "Opportunities With OES ACS Program". OES Auxiliary Communications Service Homepage. Governor's (California, USA) Office of Emergency Services. Retrieved 2008-04-02. 
  4. ^ Merlin, Ross Z. (2004). "Communications Systems for Public Health Contingencies" (pdf). DHS/FEMA Wireless Program Management Team. Archived from the original on 2008-06-25. Retrieved 2008-04-02. 
  5. ^ Mount Weather "High Point Special Facility (SF), Western Virginia Office". 
  6. ^ Bedard, Paul (December 4, 2001), "Things That Go Bump In The Night At Cheney's Cave", White House Weekly: 1 
  7. ^ a b c Schwartz, Stephen I. (August 9, 2006), "Near Washington, Preparing for the Worst", The Washington Post: A16 
  8. ^ "Mt. Weather". 
  9. ^ "CPS Camp # 114". 
  10. ^ "CPS Unit Number 114-01". 
  11. ^ a b McGrath, Gareth (January 30, 2002), "Training Site Bunker Used After Sept. 11 Terror Attacks", Morning Star (Wilmington, NC): 1B6B 
  12. ^ "Mount Weather". Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). GlobalSecurity.org. 27 April 2005. Retrieved 27 November 2009. 
  13. ^ Jeanne Meserve and Mallory Simon (26 November 2009). "Web site posts what it says are half million text messages from 9/11". CNN (Turner Broadcasting System, Inc). Retrieved 27 November 2009. 
  14. ^ Gup, Ted (October 10, 1992), "Grab That Leonardo!", Time, retrieved 2008-04-03 
  15. ^ Vanderbilt, Tom; article appeared in the Comments and Features section of the printed newspaper on page 12 (2006-08-28). "Is This Bush's Secret Bunker?". The Guardian (© Guardian News and Media Limited 2008). p. 12. Retrieved 2008-04-02. 

References[edit]

  • Emerson, Steven, "America's Doomsday Project," U.S. News & World Report, 7 August 1989, pages 26–31.
  • Gup, Ted, "Doomsday Hideaway," Time, 9 December 1991, pages 26–29.
  • Gup, Ted, "The Doomsday Blueprints," Time, 10 August 1992, pages 32–39.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°03′47″N 77°53′20″W / 39.063°N 77.889°W / 39.063; -77.889