June 2008 Newsletter

The next SKYWARN meeting is 16-Jun @ 7:00 PM, the third Tuesday of the month.

About 23 members attended the 20-May meeting. Topics discussed included:

  • SKYWARN training opportunities, also noted on the Calendar page.
  • SKYWARN bumper stickers are available from Dave KCUVY (free). Magnetic signs are available at a cost of $12.
  • Court Sports is the source for Steele County SKYWARN clothing items, also listed on the Spotter Store page.
  • A printer was donated by Pearson for the Operations Room.
  • Speedtech Skymate wind meters are being purchased by CERT as part of a grant.
  • The Operations Room computer was updated with GRLevel3 WX software.
  • Marv NFJP discussed Automatic Position Reporting Syustem (APRS) using Amateur Radio.
  • Laminated maps of Steele Coutny will be made available for spotters as soon as they are printed.
  • The need for a table top exercise was discussed. Anyone interested in helping with the planning should contact Dave P.

Media Hits
Steele County SKYWARN received nice compliments from the Owatonna Peoples Press the week after Memorial Day. The tornadoes in Hugo, MN and Parkersburg, IA spawned a couple of articles on preparedness in Steele County. The articles highlighted the role that SKYWARN plays. An editorial on 29-May affirmed the view that SKYWARN volunteers provide a valuable service to help protect the residents of Steele County. We appreciate the kind words from the Owatonna Peoples Press. Thanks to all of the SKYWARN volunteers for a successful program.

HY-Vee WX Radio Programming
Another WX radio programming event was held at the Owatonna HY-Vee on 17-May. Deuel NSL reports about 50-60 radios were programmed by Marlene from CERT, Bill KDDJX, Roger Borchardt, Marv NFJP, Delores and Deuel NSL. James and Matt from the National Wx Service Chanhassan also participated.

We are continuing to program weather radios for individuals who purchase radios outside of these events. The editor has seen the Midland WR-100 typically available at HY-Vee, Wal-Mart, and Fleet Farm for approximately $30. Radios can be dropped off at the Owatonna fire Station during normal business hours. Deuel NSl, Dave KCUVY, and Tom NUW program the radios for pick up, typically the next day.

Warning Sirens
After the tornado in Hugo, residents questioned why the sirens did not continuously operate while the tornado was on the ground in Washington County. The procedure used in Steele County is similar, and a correct understanding of the warning sirens is important. When activated, the warning sirens sound for 4 minutes and then automatically turn off. The warning sirens are activated only once. There is not an all clear signal.

When severe weather is possible, residents should listen to a local broadcast station for updates and alerts. The warning sirens are primarily intended to alert people who are outdoors. When the sirens are activated, individuals should seek shelter and listen for additional information on one of the local broadcast stations, such as KRUE (92.1 FM) or KOWZ (100.9 FM). Do NOT call the Police Department, Fire Department, or 9-1-1 for information.

The sirens are activated on the first Wednesday of each month at 1:00 PM for testing. The sirens will sound for 1 minute and then shut off.

Operations Center Contact
Be sure to contact the Operation Center when self-activating or ceasing operation. For your safety, the Operation Center needs to know who is out in the field and where they are. Everyone needs to be accounted for at the end of an operation. Amateur Radio operators can contact Owatonna SKYWARN on 145.490. The phone numbers for the SKYWARN Operation Center are 507-744-7241 and 507-774-7242.

Disaster Kit From USA Today
Hopefully, everyone remembered to change the batteries in their smoke detectors. How many have reviewed and updated the contents of their disaster kit (or even have one)? The storm disasters in Hugo, MN and Parkersburg, IA should remind us of the need to have supplies ready to go. Some suggestions:

  • Review and update important documents, such as medical records that might have changed since the disaster kit was assembled.
  • It's also a good time to read homeowner's insurance policies again to review the coverage. Keep documents in a waterproof bag in the disaster kit.
  • Check use-by dates on canned goods and other perishables. Rotate them out or donate them to a food bank if they are getting near expiration. One suggestion is to use a permanent marker to write purchase and expiration dates on cans and boxes of stored food.
  • The Red Cross recommends replacing bottled water if it has been sitting around for more than six months.
  • Check the batteries in flashlights, radios and other electronics. Make sure extra batteries are on hand and that they are within their use-by dates.
  • If plastic tarps, cloth cots or blankets are being stored in a garage or some other humid place, open them up and check for deterioration.
  • Pull out the gas generator, check the oil, gas it up and make sure it will start. Be sure to have fresh gasoline, as it can deteriorate in storage.

Weather Underground has a feature called WunderMap. It takes an aerial view of the earth and overlays the radar image. You can zoom into and see what the radar is detecting over your street. Check out a view of Owatonna.

Night Storms From USA Today
People might be led to believe that severe weather occurs more at night because more deaths result from nighttime storm systems. Tornadoes have been known to occur at any time of day. While peak times can vary according to location and time of year, many tornadoes happen between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Research indicates that nocturnal tornadoes (midnight to 6 a.m.) result in a disproportionate number of fatalities. There are 64% fewer fatalities from tornadoes occurring between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Those in the path of nocturnal tornadoes may sleep through alerts which they would otherwise recognize during the daytime, thus preventing them from taking the proper safety precautions.

Word For The Month From Minnesota WeatherTalk
Wind Sentry
We know that an anemometer is used to measure wind speed, while a wind vane is used to measure the direction it blows from. An instrument that combines both an anemometer and a wind vane is called a wind sentry. You might find a vane and cup anemometer mounted on a single vertical shaft, one above the other. Another mounting will be a horizontal shaft with a cup anemometer on one end and a wind vane on the other.

Copyright 2008
All Rights Reserved
Steele County SKYWARN
Owatonna, MN