May 2009 Newsletter

The next SKYWARN meeting is 19-May @ 7:00 PM, the third Tuesday of the month.

About 30 members attended the 21-Apr meeting. Topics discussed included:

  • Shirley Woodfill provided information on upcoming NIMS training.
  • Chris NCPG gave an update on spotter training.
  • Comments were fielded from the group on the Home Show booth.
  • Deuel NSL reported on his efforts for WX radio events at HY-Vee and Cabela's.
  • Dave KCUVY remided everyone that Steele County Amateur Radio operations is now using the WBVAK/R repeater operating at 147.105.
  • Dave KCUVY led discussion on a call-out system. (more below)
  • Plans for documenting observer "sweet spots" were noted.

At the conclusion of the meeting, participants were given the opportunity to fill out the necessary form and have pictures taken necessary for badging. Pictures were also loaded onto the Trained Spotters page.

No activations for April. MN observed Serere Weather Awareness Week with two activations of tornado sirens across the state. More information on activities for the week can found at Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

WX Radio Event
SKYWARN and CERT are having a WX Radio event at the Owatonna HY-Vee on Saturday, 02-May. Deuel NSL worked with HY-Vee to prepare fort the event. Dave KCUVY and Chris NCPG will be the on site leaders.

NIMS Training
NIMS is a standardized approach to incident response and management. It establishes a uniform set of procedures that volunteer and professional responders use in a disaster situation. It is strongly recommended that all volunteers complete two FEMA courses on NIMS. IS-100 and IS-700 are designed to help you understand the organizational order followed in incident response. Without this background information, responders to an incident may not understand the why and how incidents are managed. Training can be completed on-line or through a formal class setting. Steele County Emergency Management is sponsoring an IS-700 class on 06-May and an IS-100 class on 07-May. Both classes will begin at 6:00 PM at Steele County Public Health, 635 Florence Avenue. Registration is encouraged by calling Jane Nyquist at 444-7661.

SKYWARN Training
Chris NCPG will host a SKYWARN training session on Tuesday 12-May. The session will begin at 7:00 PM at the Fire Station. Please register with Bonnie (507-444-2454) to help ensure there is adequate seating.

SKYWARN activation notifications using the City Watch system has been troublesome in the past. The City and County are looking to switch to another system, but that may not happen in a timely fashion. At the 21-Apr meeting, Dave KCUVY provided information on a Honeywell system called Instant Alert® system currently used by Owatonna Schools. The group concluded it would be beneficial for SKYWARN to implement its own Call-Out system using Instant Alert®. The annual subscription fee is $250 for 50 members. Spotters are being asked (not required) to donate $5 in order to cover the subscription cost for themselves. Donations can be made at the 19-May SKYWARN meeting.

Downed Power Lines From OSHA
Severe wind and storms can cause power lines to fall, creating an unknown hazard. Power lines running through a neighborhood typically have several THOUSAND volts across them, significantly more than the 110 volts in your house. You may come across downed lines spotting. Protect yourself and others by remembering these rules:

  • Do NOT assume that a downed conductor is safe simply because it is on the ground or it is not sparking.
  • Do NOT assume that all coated, weatherproof or insulated wire is just telephone, television or fiber-optic cable.
  • Low-hanging wires still have voltage potential even if they are not touching the ground. So, dont touch them. Everything is energized until tested to be de-energized.
  • Never go near a downed or fallen electric power line. Always assume that it is energized. Touching it could be fatal.
  • Electricity can spread outward through the ground in a circular shape from the point of contact. As you move away from the center, large differences in voltages can be created.
  • Never drive over downed power lines. Assume that they are energized. And, even if they are not, downed lines can become entangled in your equipment or vehicle.
  • If contact is made with an energized power line while you are in a vehicle, remain calm and do not get out unless the vehicle is on fire. If possible, call for help.
  • If you must exit any equipment because of fire or other safety reasons, try to jump completely clear, making sure that you do not touch the equipment and the ground at the same time. Land with both feet together and shuffle away in small steps to minimize the path of electric current and avoid electrical shock.

VORTEX2 From Wired
VORTEX2 is billed as the biggest, most expensive, tech-heavy effort to understand how and why tornadoes form. An army of 100 scientists with 40 vehicles will spend a month tracking supercells. The goal is to track up to 20 possibly tornado-producing storms across the Oklahoma prairie. VORTEX2 will use 10 different types of mobile radar systems operating on different wavelengths. The workhorse Doppler X-band radar systems consist of big, generally parabolic dishes mounted on the backs of large trucks, which are positioned 10 to 20 kilometers from the big storms. The X-band radar works from long-distances, but its maximum resolution is only in the hundreds of meters. W-band radar operates at a very high frequency and able to see things 10 meters across a couple miles away.

Term For The Month From Minnesota WeatherTalk
Our April showers, often snow showers in northern Minnesota counties, do not have a colloquial name associated with them. But, they certainly do in England and Scotland. The term lamb-showers is used to refer to nuisance storms which produce a light falling of snow in the spring when new lambs are born, most often during late March or early April. More severe snow storms or squalls (called lamb storms or lamb-blasts) during this time can be lethal to the newborn lambs, so the U.K. Meteorological Office provides special forecasts to sheep producers during the spring season to help them avoid or at least anticipate any weather-related difficulties.

Copyright 2009
All Rights Reserved
Steele County SKYWARN
Owatonna, MN