Stand by for an emergency message

barnPlease stand by for this newspaper column which will begin as soon as the cats get off of me so I can get to the computer.

Okay, they’re gone. All though many complain about it, it is said that no one does anything about the weather. I think this is false as you can modify how the weather affects you through preparation and information.
First off, we are in an era of unprecedented access to weather information. The weather information that sprays out of the television is incredible. The sophistication and storm prediction is such that it near future weather forecasts have little guess work. You can receive immediate code red alerts on your phone, cell phone, email or by text and radio fills in any information gaps. Minnesota is a state of extreme weather and you must stay informed about storm activity-it is your responsibility. There are so many sources of weather information reaching out toward you but it is on you to be able to receive this information. Please don’t say “I don’t do computers” when it comes to consuming weather information only as most sources of weather information use medium other than computers to inform.
I saw lots of pictures of swirling clouds and little spouts from our most recent storm. I have often heard people question why there are no civil defense sirens when there is rotation or spouts. Civil defense sirens are set-off only when a tornado warning is issued from the National Weather Service (NWS.) The NWS watches these swirls and funnels too and determines whether they are real trouble or just cold funnels which typically cause no damage. Anyone can observe weather however it takes a practiced eye to understand what is being observed.
One new wrinkle to weather-spotting this year, in Minnesota, is the Allied Radio Matrix Emergency Response (Armer) radio system. Using this system, Sheriff’s Offices in the area affected by weather warnings were able to report skyward observations directly to the National Weather Service. Weather observers in the field, such as police officers or firemen, could reports to the local dispatch and that information was then reported to the NWS via the Armer system. This is a very immediate system.
Preparation is everything in a tornado. Your first plan should be to shelter in place as driving or walking to a shelter exposes you to possible dangerous weather and typically storms come on quickly and you may not have enough time to get to shelter, particularly if you have not monitored the numerous sources of weather information. Basements and lower level interior rooms are best as a lot of injury from tornadoes comes from flying debris.
This has been an emergency message, I now return you to your day. Which for me, means sitting under the cats.

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