Stay safe in dangerous weather

Jefferson residents will have a tornado drill Wednesday morning. Greene County emergency management director Dennis Morlan  encourages all Greene County towns to do the same.

The drill, slated for Wednesday at 10 am, is part of Severe Weather Awareness Week.

Under city policy, sounding the tornado siren does not mean a tornado is barreling down on the city. It is meant to alert anyone who may not know of a possible tornado. See the Features tab for more information.

Early warning systems have decreased the mortality of tornados. Deaths from tornados in the US have decreased from 8 per million people per year in 1925 to .11 per million in 2012.

The usefulness of early warning was demonstrated in Parkersburg in May 2008. An EF5 tornado hit Parkersburg late in the afternoon on what had been a very pleasant Sunday. Nearly 300 homes were destroyed; seven people were killed in the town of 1,000 residents.

According to an AP story published the next day, “Warning sirens sounded early enough to give residents time to seek shelter, Parkersburg mayor Bob Haylock said. ‘Without that, we would have a tremendous amount of injuries and loss of life,’ Haylock said. ‘People were down in their basements and waiting it out.'”

Even at that, the sirens sounded only five minutes before the tornado hit. According to a service assessment prepared by the US Department of Commerce, the National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for Black Hawk and Bremer counties at 3:30 pm. The tornado warning was issued at 4:46, the sirens in Parkersburg were activated at 4:51, and the tornado hit at 4:56. (See  for the entire report.)

It’s the folks who may be out of doors, or who don’t generally have a television or radio turned on, that the Jefferson city council wants to be sure know that the black clouds may be bringing dangerous weather.


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