Webster County to emphasize severe weather preparedness

Tornado drill to be held Wednesday

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Dylan Hagen, Webster County Emergency Management coordinator, looks over a map showing all the weather sirens in the county in the Webster County Telecommunications Center. On Wednesday, as part of Severe Weather Awareness Week, Webster County will be taking part in the statewide tornado drill.

Spring is finally here, and with it, the probability of strong and severe weather has increased.

To raise awareness of severe weather, this week Webster County will be participating in Severe Weather Awareness Week.

Dylan Hagen, Webster County Emergency Management coordinator, said the week of March 25 through March 29 is dedicated to drawing attention to severe weather that can happen during this time of year.

Every day will be dedicated to a new topic.

• Monday will be severe thunderstorms.

• Tuesday will be warning reception.

• Wednesday will be tornadoes and will include the statewide tornado drill at 10 a.m.

• Thursday will be family preparedness.

• Friday will be flooding.

Hagen said the statewide tornado drill will provide an opportunity for the county to test out the new Weather Warn System.

The system is connected to the National Weather Service.

Hagen said when a tornado warning is issued, a polygon appears across the warned area.

“If a siren falls within that polygon, it will automatically activate that siren,” Hagen said.

This takes pressure off of the local fire departments and dispatchers with the Webster County Telecommunications Center, who were responsible for activating the siren under the previous system.

It also means that only the warned area will be alerted to severe weather.

“That way, we don’t have a siren going off in Clare if there’s a tornado by Dayton,” Hagen said. “That eliminates that confusion.”

Because the system is being tested, Hagen said the siren might go off multiple times on Wednesday. He said not to worry about that, as it will only be a test.

“We feel this would be the best time to test the new siren activation system, to lessen the confusion of the sirens going off,” he said.

Besides the statewide tornado drill, Hagen said information on every day’s severe weather topic will be published on the Webster County Emergency Management Facebook page.

Iowans can experience a variety of weather phenomena, with the most recent one being flooding. Hagen added that tornadoes, thunderstorms, lightning, high winds and heat can also impact Webster County.

He added that, while severe weather can’t be stopped, there are precautions the public can take to make sure they stay safe.

They include:

• Being aware of the potential hazards during a severe weather event.

• Monitor forecasts from the local National Weather Service office to learn when to expect danger.

• Pay attention to any developments with weather that may impact you or your area.

• Make a plan to stay safe.