Emergency Management recognizes Nebraska Severe Weather Awareness Week--March 27-31
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
Contact: Wendy Meyer-Schmidt, Public Information Officer
Work Phone: 308.385.5444 ext.148
Cell Phone: 308.391.0961
Release Date: March 15, 2017—Immediate
Grand Island/Hall County Emergency Management recognizes Nebraska Severe Weather Awareness Week
Grand Island, Neb. — Severe weather season is just around the corner, and so is Nebraska Severe Weather Week, March 27-31. Severe weather poses Nebraska’s greatest threat of disaster. Severe summer weather hazards such as lighting, severe wind, tornados, flooding, and large hail can cause significant property damage, injury, or even death.
The Grand Island/Hall County Emergency Management Department, in association with the National Weather Service (NWS), encourages every home and business to understand the risks of severe weather.
The highlight of Severe Weather Awareness Week is a test tornado warning. The test tornado warning will be issued on Wednesday, March 29, between 10 and 11 a.m. All NWS offices serving Nebraska will participate.
The NWS urges schools, businesses, and the general populace to participate in the test by invoking a severe weather safety plan. In addition, the Grand Island/Hall County Emergency Management Department encourages residents and businesses to let the department know where a siren is heard by using the social media tools of Twitter @GIHallEMA or Facebook at www.facebook.com/gihallema911.
In today’s face-paced world of 24-hour media and social media, people have access to information like never before. The same is true for disaster warnings and notifications. As the Emergency Management Department is seeking to distribute disaster-related information to the public through Twitter and Facebook, residents and businesses are encouraged to follow the department on social media and provide feedback, photos, real-time weather reports, and other ground-truth information. Throughout Severe Weather Awareness Week, the department will use social media @GIHallEMA and www.facebook.com/gihallema911 to provide easy tips, fun videos, and direct people to resources that can help.
The following “Did You Know” facts are provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the NWS:
- One out of four businesses that close following an incident never reopens.
- The average forward speed of a tornado is 30 miles per hour, but can also be nearly stationary or roar through at close to 70 miles per hour.
- Lightning can occur from cloud-to-cloud, within a cloud, cloud-to-ground, or cloud-to-air.
- A downburst is a small area of rapidly descending air beneath a thunderstorm. Once this air hits the ground, it spreads out, causing potentially damaging straight-line winds. Downbursts present an extreme danger to aviation.
- Large hail stones can fall at speeds greater than 100 miles per hour.
Summer weather presents some of the most dangerous hazards, according to Jon Rosenlund, director of Emergency Management. “Working with our friends with the National Weather Service, we hope that residents take this week to review their emergency plans and be ready when severe weather comes calling.”
To be ready for severe weather, Rosenlund recommends homes and businesses learn more about weather advisories, watches, and warnings provided by the NWS.
“There are many ways to receive emergency weather information, including National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Alert Radio, local radio, television, and newer sources like text and email messages,” Rosenlund stated.
Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) is a public safety system allowing customers who own certain wireless phones and other enabled mobile devices to receive geographically-targeted, text-like messages alerting of imminent threats to safety in their area. The technology ensures that emergency alerts will not get stuck in highly congested areas, which can happen with standard mobile voice and texting services. WEA, formerly known as the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) or Personal Localized Alerting Network (PLAN), was established pursuant to the Warning, Alert and Response Network (WARN) Act.
Pre-authorized national, state or local government authorities may send alerts regarding public safety emergencies, such as evacuation orders or shelter–in-place orders due to severe weather, a terrorist threat, or chemical spill, to WEA. The alerts from authenticated public safety officials are sent through FEMA's Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) to participating wireless carriers, which then push the alerts from cell towers to mobile devices in the affected area. The alerts appear like text messages on mobile devices.
Wireless companies volunteer to participate in WEA, which is the result of a unique public/private partnership between the FCC, FEMA, and the wireless industry to enhance public safety.
For more information about severe weather in Nebraska, interesting weather facts, or for an online Severe Weather Awareness Week packet go to http://www.weather.gov/media/gid/awareness/swaw/SWAW2016.pdf.