The Coffey County Weather Plan

Photo by Michael Hoag. (Lightning striking by Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Center)

During potential severe weather conditions, the county will deploy persons, called storm spotters, to look for developing situations that could lead to a tornado. When they spot a funnel cloud or a wall cloud, two conditions that precede a tornado's formation, the spotters will call in a report to the County Emergency Operations Center.

If you are interested in becoming a storm spotter, please contact the Emergency Management Office at (620) 364-2721 or 800-947-4685, to request more information.

Coffey County Emergency Management Office will also be observing the weather, using radar, and National Weather Service reports.

When a funnel cloud or a tornado has been sighted, the severe weather sirens will activate a three (3) minute straight tone. Tune to KSNP 97.7 FM to listen for further information.

Siren Tones

Siren card

  • ALERT - Tornado, Natural Disaster or Wolf Creek
  • FIRE  - For Fire Personnel

There will be NOT be an all clear siren sounded. To determine if the danger has passed, listen to your radio.

What to do when severe weather threatens:

Severe weather can hold many hazards, but injuries and deaths may be minimized if precautions are taken. Although there is no guaranteed safe place during a tornado, some locations are better than others. By following these safety tips you can increase your chances of survival.

At signs of threatening weather, check the weather forecast, especially before leaving for extended periods of time outdoors. Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are imminent. Keep a portable (battery-powered) AM/FM radio with you. NOAA Weather Radios are available at retail stores in Coffey County. Weather information is broadcast from the tower at Halls Summit at 162.425 MHz. Weather radios can be obtained from businesses where electronics are sold.

If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning. Move to safe shelter immediately in a sturdy building or car. Do not shelter in a shed, under isolated trees, or in convertible cars. Get out of boats and away from water.

Telephone lines and metal pipes conduct electricity. Unplug and avoid using electrical appliances. Use the telephone only in an emergency. Turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can overload compressors. Do not take a bath or shower.

If caught outdoors:

Find a low spot away from trees, fences and poles. Make sure the place you pick won't be subject to flooding. If you are in the woods, take shelter under the shorter trees. If you feel your skin tingle or your hair standing on end, you are about to be struck by lightning, squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet (do not lay flat). Place your hands on your knees and your head between them. Make yourself as small as possible and minimize contact with the ground.

Tornado:

  • TORNADO WATCH: Tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, or both are possible.
  • TORNADO WARNING: Take shelter immediately.  A tornado has been sighted.
  • FUNNEL CLOUD: A strong, rotating column of air extending from the base of a cloud to the ground.
  • WALL CLOUD: A lowered cloud base usually found at the southwest edge of a thunderstorm; it suggests rapidly rising air and possibly a severe thunderstorm. With the proper mix of humidity, warm air and strong high-level winds, it can signal a tornado formation

During a Tornado Watch:

A tornado watch is given when weather conditions are favorable for the formation of tornadoes, like during severe thunderstorms. If a tornado watch is issued for your county, get set.

  • Watch TV and listen to local radio for further information.
  • Watch the horizon. If you see any revolving funnel-shaped clouds, report them immediately to Emergency Management at (620) 364-2721 or 800-947-4685 or to the Sheriff at (620) 364-2123 or 800-362-0638.
  • Know the locations of designated shelters in public facilities such as schools, public buildings and shopping centers.
  • Have emergency supplies on hand.
  • Have a household plan for where to go and what to do.

During a Tornado Warning:

A tornado warning is given when a tornado funnel has been sighted or indicated by radar. You should take shelter immediately. Because tornadoes can form and move quickly, there may not be time for a warning. That is why it is important to stay alert during severe storms. If a tornado warning is issued for Coffey County or if you suspect a tornado is near, go to shelter immediately.

Go to the basement. If there is no basement, go to the lowest floor and into a bathroom, closet, or interior hallway in the center of the building. Stay away from windows.

Protect yourself underneath something sturdy and protect your head.

Leave your mobile home or car and seek shelter. If there is no substantial building nearby to go to for safety, lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area with your hands protecting your head.

At home:

The safest place to be during a tornado is underground, preferably a basement under something sturdy like a workbench.

If there is no basement or cellar in your home, a small room in the middle of the house, like a bathroom or a closet, is best. The more walls between you and the outside, the better.

In a mobile or manufactured home:

Plan ahead. Go to a prearranged shelter or make arrangements with a friend, relative or neighbor with a basement or shelter to see if you can go to their house when the weather turns bad.

If you live in a mobile home park, talk to management about the availability of nearby shelter. If no emergency plan exists, consider setting up a neighborhood information program. Hold briefings on safety procedures as tornado season approaches.

As a last resort, if you can find no other shelter, go outside and lie flat on the ground with your hands over your head and neck. Be alert for flash floods that often accompany such storms.

Whatever you do, evacuate a mobile or manufactured home.

In your automobile:

If you see a funnel cloud or hear a tornado warning on the radio or a siren, stop and seek shelter. Go to a sturdy building or home, if one is near.  Otherwise, move away from the vehicle, try a nearby ditch, gully or ravine.  Do not get under the vehicle. Choose a spot in the gully, ditch, ravine that is not near items that could topple into or onto you. Lie flat, face down and put your arms over your head.

Tornadoes can toss cars - even large trucks - around like toys. NEVER try to outrun a tornado.

At Work or School

Be aware of emergency shelter plans in plants, office buildings and schools that you and your family frequently visit.

If a specific shelter area does not exist, move into interior hallways or small rooms on the building's lowest level. Avoid areas with glass and wide, free-span roofs.

At a store or shopping mall:

If you can't get to a basement or designated shelter, move to the center of the lowest level of the building, away from windows, and lie flat.

Get to a restroom or near the restroom. In larger buildings, restrooms are usually made from concrete blocks. Besides having four walls and plumbing holding things together, the metal partitions help support falling debris.

Try to get against something that will support or deflect debris, such as heavy counters, sturdy, fixed shelving or a sturdy solid table.

After the storm:

  • Be aware of all potential hazards such as broken glass and downed power lines.
  • Check to see if anyone is injured and render assistance or notify proper authorities.
  • Survey the damage and take photographs of damaged areas, if possible.
  • Contact your agent and/or insurance company and report the loss as soon as possible. Make a note regarding the date of the call and the person with whom you speak.
  • Make temporary repairs which are necessary to protect your property from further damage. Do not have permanent repairs made until you are authorized to do so by the adjuster. This would include but not be limited to boarding up broken windows, placing plastic over the roof in places where it is leaking, and dry out carpets and furniture which may be wet. Special care should be taken with some items such as antiques, paintings, silver, etc. You may want to contact a specialist on how to handle these types of items.
  • Realize that in catastrophic situations insurance companies and their adjusters will handle large losses first but will work to handle all claims in a timely manner. If you have not heard from your adjuster in a reasonable amount of time, contact your agent or company.
  • Make a detailed list of your damaged or destroyed personal property and provide a copy to the adjuster.
  • If your dwelling is uninhabitable, your agent or company will provide you information on whether your policy covers additional living expenses. You will need to keep receipts of all these expenses for documentation if you have this coverage.
  • Rest often and eat well, keep a manageable schedule, make a list of jobs to do one at a time. Discuss your concerns with others and seek help.

 

* Photo by Michael Hoag