February 26, 2021

By Assistant Chief Jim Eden, LSFD

This year we have already set records for extreme cold, let’s hope we don’t do the same for severe weather. To help you prepare for whatever comes our way, March 1-5, 2021 has been designated Severe Weather Awareness Week.  This campaign is intended to increase public awareness about severe weather and tornadoes. If you’re going to live in Missouri you need to be prepared for all kinds of weather, anytime!

The Lee’s Summit Fire Department in conjunction with the State Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill will conduct a statewide tornado drill on Tuesday, March 2, 2021 at 10:00 a.m.  Locally the Lee’s Summit Fire Department will activate the outdoor storm warning sirens, announce the exercise over the Emergency Broadcast Radio System, and send a message to Nixle.com subscribers. The National Weather Service will also activate the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) All-Hazard Weather Radio. In the event of severe weather conditions on the day of the exercise, the make-up date will be at the same time on Thursday, March 4, if weather permits.

All schools, businesses and residents are encouraged to participate in the exercise by practicing their severe weather and shelter procedures. In this time of COVID-19, everyone needs to abide by health and safety guidelines, including social distancing and wearing a mask per local directives. If that’s not possible during the tornado drill, then consider participating by simply sheltering-in-place or discussing sheltering options/plans among co-workers/family members. 

If you can participate remember, the safest shelter location is in the lowest level of the building in an interior room without windows. In schools or businesses safe locations are basements, hallways without windows, under staircases and designated tornado safe rooms. Once everyone is accounted for, the drill is over.

It is important to be aware of the forecast and the potential for rapidly changing weather conditions. Have several forms of severe weather notification that fit your lifestyleDo not depend solely on one method of notification. Commercial media and internet services provide information when you are awake, but do little when you are asleep. Outdoor warning sirens were designed to warn people outdoors and were not intended to be heard indoors. NOAA All-Hazard Weather Radios provide 24 hour a day notification of severe weather at home and at work. All-Hazard radios are programmable to the county that you live in, to alert you day or night when-severe weather is in your area. Many of these devices have back-up battery power and will function during power outages.

There are a number places to obtain severe weather safety information on the internet.  The National Weather Service provides safety tips and educational information about tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, flash flooding, lightning and the importance of NOAA Weather Radios on its Weather Safety Tips page at: https://www.weather.gov/eax/2021SevereWeatherPreparednessWeek

More information can be found on Missouri’s Stormaware.mo.gov website, which includes detailed videos about how to take shelter from tornadoes in specific locations, how to avoid flash flooding and useful information about tornado sirens and weather alert radios, and http://www.preparemetrokc.org/ for additional emergency preparedness information. For information about local notification and preparedness, contact the Lee’s Summit Fire Department at (816) 969-1300.