Severe Weather Preparedness Week
Preparing for severe weather can mean a lot of different things.
From having a family plan to knowing the evacuation plan at work to making sure enough emergency supplies are on hand, there are many things to do in preparing for the worst Mother Nature can bring.
However, with Severe Weather Preparedness Week running from now through Sunday, March 25, one Putnam County Emergency Management Agency official is hoping citizens will start at the basics.
“One thing people don’t realize sometimes is the difference between watches and warnings,” Capt. Russ Evans of CERT (Citizens Emergency Response Team) and EMA said. “From our side of the table, we want people to know the wording.”
As defined by the National Weather Service (NWS), “a watch is issued when conditions become favorable for severe weather.”
Evans points out that a watch is broad in its scope, often covering several counties or a large portion of the state. It can also last for several hours.
On the other hand, “a warning is issued when severe weather is occurring or is imminent based on Nationl Weather Service Doppler radar or spotter reports.”
Warnings are usually short and cover a small area, Evans said.
“It’s like at school, if you get a warning from the principal, you’re going to take it seriously,” Evans said. “Or if a police officer hands you a warning ticket, it’s an eye opener.”
While watches and warnings can cover a variety of weather-related incidents, it’s helpful to use tornadoes as an example of the difference in the two awareness levels. A watch means that based on weather conditions, things could lead to a tornado. A warning is even more serious in that a tornado, or at least a funnel cloud, has been spotted in your area.
“And if we get a warning,” Evans said, “don’t go outside and look around.”
Coinciding with the start of spring, Severe Weather Preparedness Week is a chance to plan for the worst of severe weather, which often strikes during spring and summer.
Besides a reminder about the simple wording, the week allows for some much more advanced planning for anyone who chooses to take part.
On Tuesday, statewide tornado drills involving the activation of community weather sirens will take place at 10:15 a.m. and 7:35 p.m.
Evans said schools and businesses are encouraged to participate. It’s a time for students and employees to get a reminder of what to do and where to go should a tornado or other disaster strikes.
Officials hope that such activity will spur some thinking and talking about a plan for home.
“If you’re at home, you need to know to go to the basement or an interior room,” Evans said.
He encouraged families to use some time this week to have a serious talk about disaster planning.
“People need to have a plan,” Evans said. “Put the phones to the side and have a nice, talkative dinner.
“Ask them what they do at school. What do we do at home? What if Mom and Dad aren’t home? What if cell towers are out?”
Anyone wanting more information about planning for severe weather is encouraged to visit the National Weather Service at www.weather.gov.
“If we can get two or three people to think about it, we’ve done our job,” Evans said.