THE DESIGNATED WEATHER WATCHER:
A CRITICAL COMPONENT TO YOUR SEVERE WEATHER SAFETY PLAN
by Phil Hysell
Your workplace, your children’s school or your church are all prepared for the next severe weather event. They have a severe weather plan and practice it so everyone knows where to go. They have a NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio with fresh batteries so the instant a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning is issued their severe weather plan can be enacted. A disaster supply kit is also available.
However, even the seemingly most prepared institutions may be lacking one vital component: The designated weather watcher. Some of the most unfortunate weather and flood related deaths and injuries have occurred where people were unaware of a hazardous threat or event in progress. Even though timely watch and warning information was available from the National Weather Service, these people were unaware because they were not paying attention.
The designated weather watcher is a person assigned to pay attention to the weather, while others go about their business. While there have been many great examples of the successful use of this concept over the past several years, the example receiving the most attention is one relating to the Parsons Manufacturing Company near Peoria , IL . In July 2004, an F4 tornado struck the plant, leaving behind a mangled pile of manufacturing equipment, employee vehicles and building material; however, none of the 150 people in the building were killed or seriously injured. A well organized safety plan, a NOAA Weather All Hazards Weather Radio relaying timely watches and warnings, and a Designated Weather Watcher made the difference between life and death.
While tornadoes are not a common occurrence in our area, we’ve seen our share of non-tornadic wind events that can cause the same destruction.
Please make sure as we enter this severe weather season that your workplace, school, church or other institution where a large number of people gather have a severe weather plan in place that includes a designated weather watcher.