New warning added to sirens
August 21, 2021
Crook County Emergency Management Coordinator Ed Robinson visited Moorcroft and Pine Haven as part of his route to each of the municipalities within the county to discuss the addition of a new warning signal to the towns' siren systems for Destructive Thunderstorm conditions.
"Basically, if you have baseball sized hail or larger, 80 mile an hour wind or both, [the National Weather Service] considers that to be a destructive storm – upgraded from severe thunderstorm, but lower than tornados. It's considered to be life threatening."
The National Weather Service has changed how hazard information is communicated with the public. From now on, thunderstorms will be announced according to three tiers of impact.
The third and most severe category is "destructive," which includes 2.75-inch hail (baseball sized) and/or 80 mph thunderstorm winds. Nationwide, the National Weather Service estimates that this applies to only 10% of severe thunderstorms each year.
If a storm receives this tag, it will automatically activate a wireless emergency alert to smartphones within the area. This category is intended to convey to the public that urgent action is necessary as a life-threatening event is occurring that may cause substantial damage to property.
Because every municipality employs their own warning signals and criteria, Robinson asked these councils to standardize this specific weather alert sequence and sound with the other municipalities in the county for the benefit of the public. Both councils agreed for their community.
The newly adopted "destructive" weather warning will be advertised via a public information campaign within each community, "by whatever means is available to me to let them know the criteria is in place," according to Robinson.
This warning system will also travel through people's cell phones similar to an Amber Alert, causing vibration and visible text warnings within the affected area.
Robinson hopes to have this new standardized warning in place throughout the county before the 2022 spring storms.