Daily independent weather forecasts for the Kansas City area

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Getting the word out

TRUE or FALSE

The government uses warning sirens to notify you of a tornado warning when you are in your house.

The answer: FALSE!

Believe it or not, warning sirens are designed so they are heard outside, and are measured and monitored as such. The fact that the alert can be heard inside of a building is simply a plus. Unfortunately, unless you live in close proximity to a warning siren, you will not hear it among the noise of a severe thunderstorm. Plus, if it is the middle of the night, it's unlikely that it would wake you up so you can take cover.

So the question becomes, "how do I get the warning?" The local media and the emergency alert system certainly is a good place to get the information to take cover. But these options do nothing for you while you are asleep in the middle of the night. This is why it is imperative that every household (especially in this area) have a NOAA All-Hazards Radio (the service was called NOAA Weather Radio until Homeland Security decided it wanted to use it too). These radios are designed to alert you if a tornado warning or other severe weather alert has been issued for your county. You can also set them up to alert you for any county or counties you would like. I truely believe that a NOAA All-Hazards Radio is nearly as important to have in your house as a fire alarm or a carbon monoxide detector (yes, you need one of these to... you do not want carbon monoxide poisoning, trust me... been there, done that). Add the fact that Homeland Security has now added alert capability, it makes one of these radios even more useful. There are transmitters located all over the US, and nearly every county is covered by one. For Kansas City, the transmitter is located downtown (on top of the federal building, I believe), so it provides reliable coverage for the metro area.



Midland Radio is a local company, based in North Kansas City, that makes a fine line of weather radios. Price Chopper is selling them at a significant discount from what you can get at their web site (I believe they run somewhere between $25-$30). There are several other companies as well that put out All-Hazards alert radios. I recommend getting a radio with SAME (Specific Area Message Encoder) technology built in. These allow you to receive alerts only for your county. You can also purchase a radio without SAME, if you would like. I actually have one of these, but I really needed it more for when I was in the broadcast industry (when needed to know as soon as a severe weather watch or warning was issued anywhere in the area). For the rest of us, it may be tempting to stop using a radio without SAME, as it can get rather annoying if you are awoken several times a night for warnings in counties 50 miles away.

So, if you do not own a weather radio, I encourage you to get one. Your life may depend on it...

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