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Next week’s county-wide tornado drill a preparation for upcoming severe weather PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Friday, 18 March 2016 16:32

By Jan Schultz

The Imperial Republican

Nebraska Severe Weather Awareness Week is March 21-25. It is observed to increase awareness of, and response to, severe weather hazards. As part of the preparedness, a statewide tornado drill is set for Wednesday, March 23.

Chase County Emergency Manager Duane Dreiling said this area will participate in the drill.

Starting at 9 a.m., a mock tornado watch will be issued by the Nebraska Weather Service. At 9:30 a.m., a mock tornado drill will start after the sirens blow throughout the county, Dreiling said.

The drill is three-fold, Dreiling said. One is to encourage families and businesses to have a plan of action when a true tornado nears.

At next Wednesday’s drill, Dreiling said they will have personnel at the school, hospital and manor to observe their drills and make sure radio communication is working.

The other goal of the drill is to familiarize residents with the tornado siren sound and make sure all of the county’s equipment is working well, Dreiling said.

In Imperial, there are three sirens—at the courthouse, at Schroeder Park and at the county building. Others are located in Wauneta, Champion and Enders, and an additional siren at the lake.

Dreiling said the one at Enders Lake is also sounded during the boating season on those occasions when strong winds could threaten boaters.

Besides Dreiling, other storm spotters in Chase County include Joe Weiss, Nate Jenkins, Earl Loop, Kelsey Weiss, Josh Burke and Cory Schuller, all of Imperial; Bill Bischoff and Bob Goings, Wauneta; and Mark Berry, Lamar. Lake Supt. Beau Licking also helps cover the Enders Lake area.

State officials also encourage participation in next week’s drill.

“We hope Nebraskans will take time during our annual Severe Weather Awareness Week to prepare for the severe weather we face in Nebraska during the spring and summer months,” said Bryan Tuma, NEMA assistant director. “Making a safety plan and reviewing proper safety precautions is a good practice for those of us who live in areas affected by tornadoes, floods and severe thunderstorms,” he added.

Severe Weather Awareness Week doesn’t concentrate only on tornado preparedness.

Weather Service officials also encourage Nebraskans to know their risks when it comes to large hail, damaging thunderstorm winds, floods and lightning.

Chase County ‘StormReady’

At a meeting last Thursday in Imperial, Chase County was recognized as a StormReady County in Nebraska.

Dreiling and County Commissioner Chuck Vette of Wauneta were presented a certificate noting the designation. An outdoor sign was also received and will be placed on the courthouse building, Dreiling said.

That designation comes after an inspection of the county’s warning system, its communications equipment, personnel training and a tour of the dispatch area.

Last year fairly quiet here

For the second year in a row, there were no official confirmations of tornadoes in this area, Dreiling said.

There were some high winds and damaging hail, which caused the blowing of Champion’s tornado siren once when some formations were identified by the Weather Service.

“We sent out spotters but not much could be seen because of the hard rain,” he said.

It was also fairly quiet stateside, too, according to Weather Service figures.

Just 26 tornadoes were confirmed in Nebraska last year, 16 less than the average of 42.

May was the busiest month of sightings with 16 and May 6, 2015 proved the most active day with eight sighted. The first tornado of the 2015 season came on May 3 in Lancaster County.

While Chase County had a fairly mild season, other counties in southwest Nebraska did not.

Dundy County recorded one of the largest hailstones at 4.25 inches on May 27. The storms dropped 3.7 inches of rain in several hours which resulted in flooding in and around Benkelman.

In Hitchcock County, winds at 100 mph were tracked on Aug. 7. Severe intense downpours and straight line winds roared through Stratton and later through Palisade. One fatality occurred when a trailer house overturned.

Last Updated on Friday, 18 March 2016 16:35