Archive for the ‘NWS’ Category

June 13, 2011

In the USA, for someone to say they did not get a warning is essentially to say “I did not want a warning.”

Emergency Managers, for years, have encouraged the Citizen to be more  active in getting their warning information.  The days of the siren to wake us up in the middle of the night is over.  As one emergency manager pointed out:  When I was MUCH younger, the windows were open in the spring, the blackandwhite TV was not on all the time, folks did not listen to MP3 players with headphones, and sirens could be heard inside the house.’s more mobile world calls for 24-seven news and 24-seven warning systems.  Trained professionals have learned not to count on just one system.

With the cell phone tied to every waistband, some jurisdictions are turning to products such as Nixle, BlackboardConnect, MyStateUSA, Code Red, and EmergencyE to encourage the public to get their warnings.

Popular smartphone operating systems such as the Android and Iphone offer applications such as WeatherBug that automatically alert when the resident is in a warning area as well as for areas where the Citizen has an interest.

The Weather Service has offered Interactive NWS for a few years now.  This service sends email and text messages to subscribers (who are members of the emergency management community).  This supplements the Weather Radio network that has been in place for a number of years.

Of course, amateur radio plays a big part in keeping the resident aware as do local media partners.  Even newspapers are joining the electronic media to give their own Twitter and Facebook information. 

In time, you may get automated information from your Federal partners with the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).

Indeed, today, there’s no need to go without a warning.  However, you must WANT to get one.


April 1, 2011

If you think the original “See Something; Say Something” came from Homeland Security, please think again.

That honor belongs to the brave souls connected to the local Skywarn program.

This handy program, born out of the National Weather Services in the 70s, has been the stimulus for local spotter groups and the StormReady program.

Today, the Skywarn program is a volunteer program with nearly 290,000 trained severe weather spotters.

These individuals give their reports to their local emergency management official who relays them to the National Weather Service or they give their reports to the National Weather Service who relays them to the local emergency management office.  Either way, spotters provide essential information for all types of weather hazards.

 If you see a logo that looks like this, chances are the spotter has been to the required training provided by the National Weather Service.  This is annual training required by so many emergency managers across the USA.

If this logo is on a personal vehicle, you can be assured that the owner of the vehicle uses their OWN gas, tires, windshield wipers, oil, RainEX, etc. while you remain safe at home watching TV for the report that the spotter is giving to the weather service.  In other words, they train and report at no cost to the government OR the Citizens they serve.

These are NOT chasers with expensive vehicles they allow to have videotaped (sometimes even by themselves) being operated in a dangerous manner.  These individuals use their own vehicles.  If they break the law, they get a ticket.  They know that.  Their insurance goes up as a result.

Skywarn is the original “See something; SAY something”.

Weather Radio Grant

January 22, 2011

Altus — The City of Altus Emergency Management office announced a Weather Radio rebate program, funded by a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the State of Oklahoma Emergency Management office.

The program will reimburse Jackson County residents 75% of the cost of a weather radio, according to Lloyd Colston, Altus Emergency Management director. “In other words, a $30 radio will cost $7.50, after the rebate is paid.”

“It could save your life and your family’s life,” said Jerry Gibson, director of
Jackson County Emergency Management, speaking to the benefit of the weather
radio. “It’s like a smoke detector for weather.”

Funds are limited. Citizens are encouraged to act quickly. Local vendors such
as Radio Shack and United Grocery Stores have radios in stock. The rebate
program only pays for radios with Specific Area Messaging Encoder technology
such as described at, explained Gibson.

Inside the home, it is difficult, if not impossible to hear the sirens.
Emergency managers encourage multiple means of getting warnings. Weather
radios, cell phone, pagers, email, and sirens are just some of the tools in the

In order to participate in the rebate program, Jackson County and City of Altus
residents must first buy the radio, obtain the reimbursement form, complete the
form, and submit it, with the receipt, for payment by the City.

The form is available at the American Red Cross office, the Salvation Army
church building, Jerry Gibson’s office at the Jackson County Courthouse, at City
of Altus City Hall, or online at

Once the form is received, it will be submitted to State emergency management
officials for payment. This is a pass-through grant, explained Colston. The
money will come back to the City of Altus, which will then approve the claim for
payment to the resident.

Those who need help with programming their new radio can get that help from the Altus Skywarn Association, the local weather watch group. Those who need help can leave their radio with the Red Cross, Salvation Army, or the local emergency management officials who will have the radio returned after programming is completed.

For more information, visit or call 580.482.8333 for Colston
or 580.482.0229 for Gibson.

November 23, 2010

The discussion about Spotter Convergence continues on the Chaser list.

The popular program StormChasers has added more fuel to the
discussion, especially when video of a vehicle passing in no passing

From last May, here’s a post regarding the topic:

> Is it time for chasing legislation
> to help control these unruly, dangerous convergence situations which are
> very difficult for towns such as Hennessey, or Kingfisher Oklahoma as they
> were last May 19th, or are you against legislating chasing? Why, what are
> some of your ideas or views on this subject?

As strongly as I feel about this subject, list members may be
surprised that I am NOT in favor of chasing legislation.

I AM in favor of CHASERS calming down and self-regulating, if you
will, their dangerous activity. I’m in FAVOR of certain popular TV
CHASERS acting like Human Beings, on and off camera. I am ALL THE
MORE in FAVOR of CHASERS modeling safe behavior when they are
streaming their video for all the world to see.

The video of the TIV barreling down the road across TWO double yellow
lines is but ONE example of unsafe CHASER behavior. Watching the
CHASERS stream their OWN video and my thoughts have already been
documented at

I AM in favor of Skywarn training and credentialing. IF you are a
Skywarn spotter, you have had spotter safety training. If you are
stopped for some vehicular infraction and have no reason to be their
(documented by a Skywarn “card” of some sort), you will face increased
scrutiny by the officer. That’s how it works in Jackson County,
Oklahoma, USA. I have already told my troop commander words to the
effect that my spotters are not above the law. I have ridden with a
number of my spotters and some have ridden with me. They all know
expectations. I am convinced that they will continue to meet

The Skywarn program, if I understand correctly, will become a truly
National program with uniform training. Spotter SAFETY will be part
of that training. Much like the SpotterNetwork process of vetting
individuals in a certain subject matter, the training will produce a
person entered into a National database. Mess up and I suspect that
entry in the National database will be removed.

NO! I am not in favor of increased legislation. I am in favor of
individuals doing the right thing without being told all the time what
the right thing is.

May 21, 2010

Storm chasers are NOT #Skywarn Spotters.

In part of my emails to the Weather Chaser list, I made note of this video. Please use viewer discretion.

Please view this video. Although it’s not about chasing, it’s about
motor vehicle operation and some undesirable consequences. I will add
it is quite graphic. Viewer discretion is advised, in other words.!/video/video.php?v=347401909287&ref=mf

PLEASE be SAFE and remain FREE.

Not to be outdone, some chasers took matters into their own hands.,
and are shots of a TV storm chaser barreling down a two lane road, complete with support vehicles. Can you see brake lights as these folks barrel down the roadway?

Here’s more from my colleague to the north.

In this article
, the Vortex2 team says that chasers got in their way. The article is believable except the spokesman was observed by the German Skywarn Team breaking the law. The particular individual also has ties to the “WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE” chasers on a popular TV show.

One of the participants posted comments on his Facebook page. The reply is in italics.

You REALLY believe this?

I’m responding to video of the TIV convoy passing other chasers and
the complaint that we were doing so unsafely. I realize that people do
not know that our team has radios and that we give a “clear” to the

Would you expect a Trooper to understand this? You were breaking the LAW!

follow vehicles so they know that there is no oncoming traffic. Also I
am up in the turret so that I can get a better perspective of traffic
ahead. Also the video that I saw was “zoomed” in, optically
compressing space, so that the hill and vehicles seems closer together

Then WHY did the cars behind you have to slam on THEIR breaks?

than in reality. Finally, the TIV or any of it’s follow vehicles have
never been in or caused an accident. Also, want to say that I

Never a time like NOW to break THAT record.

appreciate your concern for chasers safety and I will do my best to
make it a priority for my entire team for the rest of the season. I’m
not perfect, I know that more than anyone, but I really respect the
chaser community and I take your comments seriously.”

Read my post on the WX-Chase list about CHASERS. I would much rather folks out there were SAFE than exhibiting the DANGEROUS action you display.

The post referred to above is quoted below.

Since I’m not around ground zero this afternoon, I took some time to
watch some of the
video samples available on the various video

I observed speed too fast for conditions (wet roads and hail),
following too close (can’t you count one-one thousand, two
one-thousand after you pass a yellow line or pothole?), inattentive
driving (at least two left of center), one busted a red light, a
couple or three almost rear-ended the car in front.

Folks, if you are going to tell the world you are safely operating
your motor vehicle, the pictures need to match. If you are going to
put a picture of you in the car driving, it helps if you pay attention
to what you do instead of dinking on the PC, talking on the radio, dig
for something on the floor or in the back seat, etc. Don’t you all
have partners?

Maybe it would be a better practice to NOT show video while you are
breaking the law. After all, these end up on TV and you don’t get

I’m getting the idea that this is too hard for some but, please, TRY
to be SAFE out there. Tomorrow you are in Oklahoma. I will be too
busy to watch but I bet someone in a clearly marked car will be.

Finally, these examples are NOT representative of Skywarn. Please contact your local emergency management office or National Weather Service office for information about how to be involved in this important activity.

February 12, 2009 is a work about the Lone Grove, OK tornado of February, 2009.

One of the quotes in the comments involved a trucker’s wife. Seems she is happy her husband is out of the State. reports a … “trucker driving through town was also killed when winds slammed into his rig”.

That produces thought that truckers need the same warning the rest of us get. How do they get warnings? is the Trucker’s Weather Watch. It’s a site founded “by Sean Kiaer of Everett, Wa. on October 12 2006 to integrate the Trucking industry in to the National Weather Service’s Severe Weather Reporting Network, known as SKYWARN™.

Folks who go to Skywarn training regularly hear “never try to outrun a tornado”.

As one puzzles over how to get information into the trucks of the trucking industry, remember, in Oklahoma, at truck stops, the National Weather Service NOAA weather radio is played in the background in the rest rooms. Rather than MUZAK, the weather radio provides potentially lifesaving information.

Some, though not all, use Citizen Band radios with weather radios incorporated in them. Some relay on the goodness of dispatchers, friends, and truck stops to keep them informed of weather.

Of course, others are amateur radio operators. Those that travel the highways frequently, along the same route, have the active repeaters programmed into their radios.

Some use their cell phones, if they have a relative or friend in some sort of emergency management or weather service.

Some, it is feared, have nothing.

This is one of the reasons why Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) is so important. Can a system be developed to get the life-saving message into the hands of those that need it, before they need it?

February 11, 2009

While tornadoes typically occur between March and May in Oklahoma, with a second season in October through December, remember that tornadoes can occur at any time during any season.

From our Friends at the National Weather Service:

Public Information Statement

… february and deadly tornadoes…

tornadoes struck in central and south central oklahoma tuesday
evening affecting the cities of oklahoma city and edmond in central
oklahoma… and lone grove and ardmore in south central oklahoma.
storm survey teams will visit the affected areas on wednesday to
determine the details of these tornadoes.

… february tornadoes…

there have been 44 documented february tornadoes within the state of
oklahoma between 1950 and 2008.

there have been two previous deadly tornadoes in february in
oklahoma since 1950… both occurring on february 22 1975 in
southwestern oklahoma. on that day… one tornado struck altus
killing two people… and another tornado killed one person near
mountain park. these were two of six tornadoes that struck between
midnight and 3 am in oklahoma.

the strongest tornadoes since 1950 to have occurred within oklahoma
in february are two f3 tornadoes both that struck on february 17
1961. one f3 occurred in eastern oklahoma county from near spencer
to northeast of luther… and the other f3 was part of a tornadic
storm that moved from near stratford to konawa… wewoka and to
south of shulter.

before tuesday… the last february tornado in oklahoma occurred on
february 25 2000 in tulsa.

… deadly tornadoes…

a list of the deadliest tornadoes in oklahoma since 1950…

1. 36 fatalities 5/ 3/1999 f5 bridge creek – oklahoma city – moore
2. 20 5/25/1955 f5 blackwell
3. 16 5/ 5/1960 f4 wilburton – keota
16 5/ 5/1961 f4 talihina – reichert – howe
5. 14 6/ 8/1974 f4 drumright – olive – lake keystone
6. 10 1/22/1957 f4 gans
7. 8 4/26/1984 f3 morris
8. 7 5/ 9/1959 f4 north of harden city and stonewall
7 4/24/1993 f4 catoosa
10. 6 * 5/10/2008 f4 picher

* the picher tornado was responsible for 6 fatalities in oklahoma…
but 21 fatalities along its entire path in oklahoma and missouri.

a list of the deadliest tornadoes in oklahoma since 1882…

1. 116 fatalities 4/ 9/1947 woodward
2. 97 5/10/1905 snyder
3. 71 5/ 2/1920 peggs
4. 69 4/12/1945 antlers
5. 52 4/27/1942 pryor
6. 36 5/ 3/1999 bridge creek – oklahoma city – moore
7. 35 6/12/1942 oklahoma city /southwest/
8. 33 4/25/1893 cleveland county
9. 23 11/19/1930 bethany
10. 21 5/ 8/1882 mcalester

Now that you know that tornadoes can occur at any time, in any month:

1. Learn how to get warnings
2. Make a Plan
3. Make a Kit that supports the plan
4. Help your neighbors