Altus - According to local emergency management officials, the local radar has been turned off as the site is upgraded to a newer, better version. With this brief “loss” of the Frederick radar site, area residents are being asked to report weather to the local emergency management office serving their community.
“This is when the Skywarn training offered by the National Weather Service really pays off,” said Lloyd Colston, emergency manager for the City of Altus. Skywarn is a valuable program.
Emergency managers are encouraging reports be made to local emergency management offices. These officials are the ones with their fingers closest to the siren buttons. The Altus Emergency Operations Center will be staffed during any watch or warning period. The number to call is 580-481-2260.
Skywarn reporting criteria includes: Measured winds over 58 mph or wind damage; Hail larger than a quarter; Funnel or wall clouds; and rainfall over an inch per hour.
Obviously, a picture would be noteworthy. Area residents can send a picture to Colston at firstname.lastname@example.org or text it to 40404 with an #AltusOK comment in the subject line that describes the photo. Alternatively, the resident can send a storm report directly to the National Weather Service at http://www.srh.noaa.gov/StormReport/SubmitReport.php?site=oun
Colston also noted that radar is not the only weather tool available to emergency managers and Skywarn participants. The Oklahoma Mesonet (http://mesonet.org/) offers temperature, wind speed, direction, and rainfall readings Statewide.
“In fact, it was the Oklahoma Mesonet that gave me the indication that the ice storm was coming and was going to be bad,” he said.
Altus Skywarn members were put on notice to expect the possibility of severe weather on Tuesday evening at their monthly business meeting by Chairman/Coordinator Steve Grayson, KE5BPL.
“Although Radar is an important part in planning for and monitoring severe weather, it’s the storm spotters in the field that really make the difference”, said Grayson. “Spotters are able to tell us what is actually happening, and where its happening.”
Skywarn uses amateur radio and local repeaters to receive and relay reports to the local Emergency Operations Center and Norman National Weather Service. Scanner listeners should monitor 155.055 for communication from the local EOC while 442.050, 444.650 or 146.79 should be monitored this weekend for Skywarn information.
The Virtual Emergency Response Team is being asked to monitor social media streams for information. Rev. John Butler, the VOST coordinator, is seeking volunteers to join his effort. For more information about the VOST, text or call Butler at (580) 215-4213 or see http://vosg.us/active-vosts/. One