Monday, 12 February 2007 00:00
Hazardous Weather AwarenessWritten by Valerie Alker
This is Hazardous Weather Awareness week in Florida. Emergency planners are taking advantage of the designation to raise awareness of how to prepare….and survive potentially destructive weather.
Twenty people recently died in North Central Florida when tornadoes struck in the middle of the night. Gerald Campbell of the Lee County Emergency Operations Center says some of those folks may have survived if they’d received a tornado warning from NOAA Weather Radio.
“Tornadoes in particular are notorious for having a very short lead time to take action and the weather alert radio will give you the maximum lead time that’s out there. you will receive the warning as soon as the national weather service issues them. They have an alarm feature that’s loud enough to awaken a family in the middle of the night and yet they sit there quietly when they’re not needed.”
Campbell says new technology allows weather radio owners to program them to only react to weather emergencies in their immediate area. They cost about 50 dollars – and all come with battery back-ups so they can continue to work if the electricity goes out.
Lee County is training interested people this week to become weather spotters. It’s part of a push to alert the public to the threat severe weather can pose – as part of the state’s Hazardous Weather Awareness Week. Gerald Campbell of the Lee County Emergency Operation Center says trained spotters can be the eyes and ears of the weather service.
“we train these folks to pay attention to the weather and understand what they see and then they can report that information back into the national weather service. it’s helpful for the weather service to know from a ground truth level what their radar and other instruments are telling them.”
Campbell also stresses the importance of residents arming themselves with NOAA weather radios – which can warn of hazardous weather whatever time of day or night it threatens.
Schools are also marking Hazardous Weather Week by holding Tornado drills – to test their preparedness. Twenty people died earlier this month when 3 tornadoes struck central Florida.