Activities to promote preparedness during Nebraska Severe Weather Awareness Week (March 25-31) have been scheduled across the state as a way to encourage all Nebraskans to get ready for the hazardous weather conditions that can occur during the spring and summer months in Nebraska.
A proclamation by Gov. Pete Ricketts signed March 5, reminded Nebraskans that community preparedness can minimize the dangers, which the annual severe weather season presents, to the lives and property of Nebraskans.
Many communities will be participating in the annual statewide tornado drill on Wednesday, March 28 at 10 a.m. as part of the week’s activities.
“We want all Nebraskans to take some time during Severe Weather Awareness Week to prepare for spring and summer severe weather,” said NEMA Assistant Director Bryan Tuma. “The devastating impacts of extreme events can be reduced through improved readiness. Make a safety plan, create a preparedness kit and review proper safety precautions. It’s just a good practice for those of us who live in areas affected by tornadoes, floods and severe thunderstorms.”
Resources for staying prepared are available on the NEMA Website at nema.nebraska.gov. Scroll to the bottom of the front page and select the hazard you want to learn about including: floods (https://nema.nebraska.gov/operations/floods), thunderstorms/tornadoes (https://nema.nebraska.gov/operations/spring-and-summer-severe-weather-preparedness) and fire/drought https://nema.nebraska.gov/operations/fire-drought. You can also download preparedness resources including a preparedness kit list and a family preparedness guide.
“We want to encourage everyone to listen carefully to instructions from local officials and take the recommended protective measures to safeguard life and property when a disaster or severe weather event occurs,” Tuma said. “Stay informed about approaching severe weather. Monitor weather radios, phone apps, local news outlets and the National Weather Service. Also, make sure you have a preparedness kit that includes items like a battery-powered radio, flashlight, food, water and medicine — enough for everyone, including pets, for at least three days.”
The Wednesday drill offers a time for residents, businesses and industries to test their severe weather emergency preparedness plans. The morning drill will begin around 10 a.m., with the issuance of a mock tornado warning and activation of outdoor warning sirens about 10 to 15 minutes later. If severe weather is possible that day, the drill may be postponed or canceled.
County and regional emergency management director’s phone numbers, addresses and emails are available on the NEMA website at: https://nema.nebraska.gov/overview/county-emergency-management-directorscoordinators. The counties whose directors reported on special events scheduled in their areas during Severe Weather Awareness Week (and beyond) are listed below (in alphabetic order):
Adams County will sound sirens on March 28 at 10 a.m. to participate in the statewide tornado drill. Contact: Chip Volcek, Adams County Emergency Management Agency, email@example.com.
Cedar County will participate in the statewide tornado drill. Hydraulic Components (The largest manufacturer in Hartington), the care centers, the county jail and the schools will all seek shelter during the drill. Cedar County Emergency Management will team up with Hartington Fire Department, the City of Hartington Public Works and the Cedar County Sheriff’s Office to observe the drill at various locations, collecting data on such things as the number of people sheltered, total time, people with special needs, hazards, etc. Contact: Kevin Garvin, Cedar County Emergency Management Agency, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clay County will host Severe Weather Awareness Training at 6:30 p.m. on March 29 at the Clay County Fairgrounds in Clay Center. Contact: Loren Uden, Clay County Emergency Management Agency, email@example.com.
Colfax County will participate in the statewide tornado drill with a county-wide siren test. The courthouse will also participate in the drill. Severe Weather Awareness posters will be displayed in Schuyler, Howells and Clarkson businesses. Contact: Michelle Evert, Colfax County Emergency Management Agency, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dawson County held a weather training on March 5. They will participate in the statewide tornado drill. In addition, there will be a weather class at the Cozad Wilson Public Library in Cozad March 29 at 6:30 p.m. Contact: Brian Woldt, Dawson County Emergency Management Agency, email@example.com.
Douglas County will hold a NWS spotter talk on March 27 at Elkhorn South High School. Contact: Whitney Shipley, Douglas County Emergency Management Agency, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fillmore County will participate in the statewide tornado drill. In addition, the county is planning a Severe Weather Awareness presentation on April 19 at the Milligan Fire Hall. Contact: Jim Dunker, Fillmore County Emergency Management, email@example.com.
Johnson County will participate in the statewide tornado drill on March 28. Participating in the drill are the Johnson County Public Schools in Tecumseh and Cook, St. Andrews School in Tecumseh, Sterling Public Schools, Pawnee City School, Pawnee City Elementary, Lewiston Schools, the Johnson County Hospital and the Pawnee County Memorial Hospital. An advertisement in local papers will alert residents in both counties that the siren will be tested on March 28 and monthly thereafter. Contact: Amanda Burki, Johnson Pawnee County Emergency Management Agency, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lancaster County: Lancaster County Emergency Management will participate in the statewide tornado drill on March 28. All those who participate in the drill are encouraged to complete the drill participation form posted on the Lancaster County Emergency Management website at http://lancaster.ne.gov/emergency/index.htm.
The drill will include activation of outdoor warning sirens. Davidsaver cautioned that residents should not rely on these sirens for an indoor warning. He said local weather reports and the NOAA all-hazards radio supply the best, most current information. The outdoor warning sirens are designed to be the final warning to seek shelter immediately. More information on severe weather preparedness is available by visiting lancaster.ne.gov (keyword: emergency). Lancaster County is available on Twitter at LancasterCoEMA.
In addition, Lancaster County Emergency Management will participate in the free Central Plains Severe Weather Symposium aka: “WeatherFest” from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 7 at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Innovation Campus. WeatherFest is a community event focusing on severe weather-related issues. More information is available at: https://weatherfest.unl.edu/.
“With severe weather season approaching, now is a good time to review your family emergency response plan,” said Davidsaver. “Your plan should include a location where all family members will report during severe weather.”
Nuckolls County will participate in the statewide tornado drill. Contact: Nick Elledge, Nuckolls County Emergency Management Agency, email@example.com.
Pawnee County: see Johnson County listed above.
Perkins County: In addition to participating in the statewide tornado drill at 10 a.m. on March 28, Perkins County has scheduled Advance Storm Spotter Training on March 26 at 7 p.m. at the Grant Fire Hall. During the week the Perkins Emergency Management Agency will also distribute weather radios to the Perkins County Schools and a lightning safety sign for the ball fields in Grant. Contact: James Brueggeman, Perkins Emergency Management, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Region 5-6 Bill Pook: held its 2018 Severe Weather Awareness Expo on March 13. Contact: Bill Pook, Region 5-6 Emergency Management Agency, email@example.com.
Region 22 (Scotts Bluff and Banner counties) in cooperation with the Cheyenne National Weather Service in cooperation will provide Severe Weather Spotter Training March 27 from 6 to 8:00 p.m. at the historic Midwest Theater in downtown Scottsbluff. The concession stand will be open for the event and the training is free. Participants don’t need to be an official storm spotter to attend.
“These classes are designed to educate participants to severe weather clues and familiarize them with where and how to use such information,” said Tim Newman, Region 22 coordinator.
For more information call the Cheyenne National Weather Service at 1-800-269-6220 or Region 22 Contact: Tim Newman, Region 22 Emergency Management, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sarpy County has planned a variety of activities including:
- March 20: the Sarpy County Board of Commissioners will proclaim the week beginning March 25 as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Sarpy County. Sarpy EMA will also participate in FEMA Region 7’s microburst on Twitter at 10 a.m. and will continue to promote severe weather awareness on Twitter and NextDoor throughout the entire week.
- March 26: will set up two exhibits that display the poster contest entries received by the County as well as other severe weather preparedness information and materials. The first exhibit will be in the atrium of the Sarpy County Administration Building. The second exhibit will be near the entry of the Sarpy County Courthouse. They will remain there all week.
- March 28: will participate in the statewide tornado drill by sounding our outdoor warning sirens upon issuance of the mock warning (around 10:15 a.m.)
- March 29: will host severe storm spotter training provided by the National Weather Service at the Bellevue Fire Training Center at 7:00 p.m. All weather enthusiasts are welcome to attend.
- March 31: conducting a storm spotter deployment drill at 8:00 a.m. (SCEMA credentialed volunteers only).
Contact: Jesse Eret, program specialist, Sarpy County Emergency Management Agency email@example.com.
Thayer County: Thayer County Schools, communities and businesses will voluntarily participate in the statewide tornado drill March 28 at 10 a.m. In preparation for the severe weather season, a tornado spotter training/severe weather presentation by the National Weather Service Office Warning Coordination Meteorologist Mike Moritz, was held Feb. 27 at the Thayer County Courthouse. Contact: Bill McPherson, Cedar County Emergency Management Agency, firstname.lastname@example.org.