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Not Crying Wolf! Weather watches, warnings

In light of the National Level Exercise of the week of May 16th and Madison County’s Functional Exercise on May 18th, Missouri has experienced a devastating tornado in the Joplin Community. 

So many lives have been lost from this tornado event.  One of the comments stated in media coverage is the National Weather Service has cried wolf so many times it is hard to know when it is really happening.

It seems that all of the storm systems moving through our area are severe.  Are we becoming complacent to the warning system?  If you say yes to this question, then please reconsider your actions when warnings are issues.

The National Weather Service states they often issue tornado warnings based on seeing circulation in the thunderstorm on Doppler radar. However that does not mean a funnel cloud is there. There might be, but there might not be anything apparent at all. Seeing the circulation in the storm on radar tells us the storm has the potential to produce a tornado, but whether it will or not is still beyond the science and our detection system. However the majority of storms with rotation also produce strong wind gusts, hail and very heavy rain.

When the warning is issued, this means the funnel cloud is formed, TAKE COVER.  If the tornado does not reach the ground, GIVE THANKS. 

Madison County does not have a storm room for citizens without basements.  But we do have neighborly values.  If you do not have a basement, but your neighbor does, get to know them.  Ask them if you could take shelter in their basement in the event of severe weather.

When a severe weather watch is issued, this is the time to issue your family emergency plan.  Locate your family members, check on your emergency supplies, and  make contact with your shelter neighbor if you have one.  If you need an emergency plan packet, come by the health department and pick one up.

When a severe weather warning is issued, take cover.  Listen to the media of radio or television for further updates.  Should the storm cause damage, this will be the means to find out the information of what you should do, what has happened, what assistance is available.  Use your cell phone as little as possible.  Check on your family members, neighbors, etc, but remember First Responders use cell phones to communicate as well.  Should cell phone service be interrupted, use texting.  If you do not have texting as a part of your cell phone package, remember one dollar extra on your cell phone bill for texting a loved one, is a small price for knowing they are okay or if they are in need of assistance.

Local businesses, industry, schools and daycare centers should keep a close watch on the weather.  Get a weather radio, have it programmed for Madison County, position the radio in an area where someone can hear it at all times.  When the warnings are issued from the weather radio, activate your severe weather business plan. If you do not have a severe weather business plan, you can start one by utilizing your loud speaker system to inform your employees as well as your customers of the potential danger.  If you do not have an emergency business plan, templates are available at the health department.  You will need to bring a jump drive and we can down load the information for you.

Call 911 if you need emergency assistance.  Do not call 911 to ask them what happened.  For updates on services available following an event, call the recorded message Madison County Information line at 783-4539.

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