Tornado drill set for Wednesday

In conjunction with Nebraska’s Severe Weather Awareness Week, the National Weather Service and Adams County Emergency Management Agency will join forces in a statewide tornado drill at about 9:50 a.m. Wednesday.

The drill begins with a test tornado watch, followed by a test tornado warning and the sounding of sirens across the county for about 10 minutes.

Chip Volcek, Adams County emergency manager director, said the purpose of the drill is to be sure all systems are in working order while reminding residents of the increased potential for severe weather that accompanies each spring and summer season across the state.

“We do the drill to test our sirens after the long winter months and also to get county citizens back into severe weather mode from March into July and August,” he said. “It also allows businesses to do tornado drills to notify their employees and customers where they should go in the case of a real event. We’re trying to make them aware that we’ve gone from winter to spring, and that usually in spring we’re going to get severe rain, hail and always the possibility of a tornado popping up here or there.”

Tornados that tore through Edgar in late May 2013 and Wayne in October 2013 serve to remind residents that tornados are not something to be taken lightly, Volcek said.

Damage from the Wayne tornado was largely why the state was declared a disaster area. Flooding caused by rains from that same storm system washed out about 900 miles of road in Adams County, damage that will be covered in part by federal disaster funds.

Information on tornados is available by request from Volcek at ACEMA by email at cvolcek@acema.org or through his assistant, Dawna Whitcomb, at dwhitcomb@acema.org.

Additionally, on-sight safety seminars pertaining to weather safety are available to businesses by appointment.

With hail, rain and possibly snow in the forecast in the coming months, the National Weather Service is seeking volunteers to be part of its Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network, known as CoCoRaHS. The network of observers will be part of a national network of volunteers who measure and log precipitation each day. Local observations are combined with thousands of others to create a national depiction of daily precipitation.

Jeff Halblaub, local CoCoRaHS program coordinator, said the importance of having multiple stations across the coverage area cannot be overstated. Forecasters from the NWS rely on readings provided by local volunteers to provide the most accurate information possible.

“The slogan for CoCoRaHS is ‘Every drop counts,’ ” Halblaub said. “There are many weather stations that exist out there, but we need more dedicated volunteers. Precipitation varies widely over short distances.”

CoCoRaHS initially was created by the Colorado Climate Center following a devastating flash flood in Fort Collins, Colo., in 1997. It has since spread across the U.S. and even into some provinces of Canada. As more observers join, gaps between stations can be filled to create a better depiction of the observed precipitation.

To participate, volunteers must purchase a specific type of rain gauge, have Internet access and be willing to undergo a short training program.

For information on how to sign up and what type of rain gauge is used, visit the CoCoRaHS homepage at www.cocorahs.org.

To read more, see Tuesday's Hastings Tribune or the Tribune e-edition.>>


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