Archive for the ‘weather’ Category

How will you get your warning?

September 2, 2011

Folks in the area are blessed with so many ways to get weather information.  Since this is National Preparedness Month, lets review those channels.

KWHW is the Emergency Alert System primary station for the area.  That means they help get EAS alerts out to others, such as CableOne.  That alone is a lot of work.  KWHW staff work hard at that system working for their downstream partners and ultimately the residents and vistors to the area.  Like many radio stations, their broadcast is available on the Stream.

The local cable system also pushes out EAS alerts automatically.  In other words, when the National Weather Service issues a warning for Jackson County, the alert comes over the TV set, regardless of which channel one is watching.

The EAS is included in IPAWS … Integrated Public Alert and Warning System … which should allow anyone anywhere in the USA to get critical information they need to make the right decision at the right time.

What IPAWS Will Do

  • IPAWS will allow the President of the United States to speak to the American people under all emergency circumstances, including situations of war, terrorist attack, natural disaster, or other hazards.
  • IPAWS will build and maintain an effective, reliable, integrated, flexible, and comprehensive alert and warning system.
  • IPAWS will enable Federal, State, territorial, tribal, and local alert and warning emergency communication officials to access multiple broadcast and other communications pathways for the purpose of creating and activating alert and warning messages related to any hazard impacting public safety and well-being.
  • IPAWS will reach the American public before, during, and after a disaster through as many means as possible.
  • IPAWS will diversify and modernize the Emergency Alert System (EAS).
  • IPAWS will create an interoperability framework by establishing or adopting standards such as the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP).
  • IPAWS will enable alert and warning to those with disabilities and to those without an understanding of the English language.
  • IPAWS will partner with NOAA to enable seamless integration of message transmission through national networks.

Residents can monitor the National Weather Service information on the webTwitter, and Facebook.

Also, each of the media pages linked to this blog also have weather information.

Beyond that, the Altus Skywarn Association continues to work hard providing weather information to the local emergency management office and the National Weather Service.  Their new Echolink-connected repeater on 444.650 mHz is available to scanner listeners who can hear them talking to the National Weather Service, area storm spotters, and occasionally stations overseas.  The new system gives weather updates periodically through the day. The Association also works hard to train members about weather and technology.  The group has a Facebook page as well.

The City of Altus has a Community Alert System called Blackboard Connect.  Registered folks can get a phone call, a text message on their cell phone, and an email to their inbox, as well as an automatic Tweet.

Finally, the National Weather Service transmitter in Jackson County has been upgraded to a higher power device.  This radio broadcasts 24-hours per day, seven days per week providing listeners to weather information.  Specially designed receivers are available at local stores.  Sitting quietly on the night stand, the radios alert when the weather service issues a warning.

Emergency managers have been asking for people to have three ways to get warnings and other weather information.

Yes, the sirens will sound in accordance with the County Emergency Operations Plan.  Emergency managers are quick to say that the out-door warning devices are just that.  They are designed to cause one to go inside to find out what’s happening on your AM radio, FM radio, all-hazards weather radio, television, email, cell phone, amateur radio, Twitter, or favorite internet web site.

That’s at least eight ways area residents can get weather information.  Please pick three.

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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.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=kc5fm-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=B002WFJEJY&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrToday’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.http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=kc5fm-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=B000O1QZW2&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

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.



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 http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/nwrsame.htm, 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
toolbox.

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 http://ow.ly/pYgX

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 http://altusem.us or call 580.482.8333 for Colston
or 580.482.0229 for Gibson.

February 28, 2010

Radio Shack has an interesting Weather Radio with AM/FM for Skywarn folks.

Since Jackson County has a grant to get a 75% rebate on the purchase of a new weather radio with SAME technology, it was not hard to say “yes”.

The radio has an amazing additional feature. It’s a scanner for two-meter and 440 mHz Skywarn channels, programmable. That’s 20 channels for the local Skywarn enthusiast.

The radio specifications list .3 microvolt for both the weather radio and Skywarn band. That’s not great sensitivity but locally it works to hear the local Skywarn repeaters and the County NWS transmitter, with the telescoping antenna collapsed and folded into storage.

Reading the reviews on the Radio Shack site, some complaints are:

low sensitivity
can’t program a local Skywarn channel
no balance in audio between bands

One EXCELLENT feature is the BNC antenna adapter that comes with the radio. This makes having an outside antenna to improve reception of both weather and amateur radio signals.

Overall, this is a good unit, especially if you live in Jackson County, OK and are involved in the Skywarn Program.

March 28, 2009
Pryor Snow
Pryor Snow
Originally uploaded by colston

This weekend has been terrible for the folks in Northwest Oklahoma.

Twitter has been ablaze with stories and reports from #OKice. Amarillo National Weather Service office reported final snow reports for the blizzard.

Nevertheless, the photo here is from Pryor. The current radar shows the storm continues in the area.

The Oklahoma Amateur Radio Emergency Service group was placed on standby for the event. This is a dedicated group of volunteers who give up their time for special events and disasters.

At any rate, this week Oklahoma has seen thunderstorms, thundersnow, fire weather, blizzards, and clear blue skies.

Check your local forecast EVERY day. Then you won’t be in flipflops going into winter weather to rescue someone.