April 25, 2014

Get training on severe weather preparedness this weekend

Dark CloudsTopping off Severe Weather Awareness Week, a regional weather seminar is planned for tomorrow in southeast Nebraska.

B.J. Fictum, the Saline County emergency management coordinator, says people will learn about being ready for spring and summer severe weather and storm spotters will get training.

The event will feature Peggy Willenberg and Melanie Metz, known as the Twister Sisters.

“They’re still out on the road, they’re still chasing,” Fictum says. “When we talked to them in January and they expressed an interest in coming down. We asked if they’re still at it, and they are, they’re still chasing storms and doing tours. They had some really good chases lately they’re going to talk about in their presentation.”

The Twister Sisters return to the area on the 10th anniversary year of the tornado that ripped through the Wilber and Hallam areas, destroying much of Hallam. Both women aided in rescue operations shortly after the tornado, which rated as an F-4 and was on the ground for 52 miles across southeast Nebraska.

“Storm chasers, at least the good ones, the educational ones, do not only chase storms,” Fictum says. “They see someone that needs help, they see a person trapped, they see debris in the roadway, they’ll stop, they’ll solve the problem.”

Wayne County Emergency Management director Nic Kenmitz and Sheriff LeRoy Janssen are scheduled to give a presentation on last October’s tornadoes in the Wayne area. UNL Climatologist Ken Dewey and National Weather Service warning coordination meteorologist Brian Smith will also be at the session.

Crete 4th graders will be displaying their artwork, which includes over 100 severe weather posters entered as part of Nebraska Severe Weather Awareness Week.

Among the demonstrators, Fictum says a new addition this year is an interactive display of tornado safe rooms.

“They’re going to actually bring down two or three pre-fab safe rooms so people can take a look at what a safe room is,” he says.

Under an emergency management and Lower Big Blue NRD program, Fictum says more than 20 applications for grant funds in Saline County and another 20 in Gage County have been made by property owners to have safe rooms in their homes.

The Saline Regional Weather Seminar is Saturday. The workshop and training starts at 12:30 PM at the Saline Center, west of Wilber on Nebraska Highway 15.

Elsewhere, storm spotter classes are planned through the National Weather Service in the coming weeks in several Nebraska communities, including: Butte, Valentine, Maywood, Hershey, Broken Bow, Thedford, Mullen, Ogallala, Ewing, Dunning, Atkinson and Sutherland.

For details on upcoming spotter training, go here: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/lbf/?n=lbfspottersched

Thanks to Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice

Spring may spawn severe weather, tips on being prepared for what’s coming

Dark CloudsWith winter behind us, Nebraskans need to get in the mindset to be prepared for different potential weather dangers associated with spring — like hail, lightning, flash flooding and tornadoes.

Meteorologist Jeff Johnson, at the National Weather Service, says today marks the start of Severe Weather Awareness Week in Nebraska. One key element will be a statewide tornado drill on Wednesday morning.

“We’ll have the watch at 10, followed by a Tornado Warning at about 10:15,” Johnson says. “It’s an excellent time to exercise your home plan, if you have one, or your school response to a tornado or your business response.”

Each day this week will focus on different types of severe weather, including flash flooding, severe thunderstorms, developing a family emergency plan and how watches and warnings have changed in recent years. Johnson says it’s difficult to predict what kind of year will be ahead, especially after such a cold, snowy winter.

“It all depends on where the weather patterns set up in April, May and June,” Johnson says. “I always tell everybody prepare for the worst and we’re going to have severe weather at some point. We’re going to have tornadic storms, flash flooding storms, large hail and wind.”

Over the next few weeks, the National Weather Service will hold storm spotter classes across Nebraska. The classes offer information about cloud development, how to spot tornadoes and more.

Learn more about Severe Weather Awareness Week at www.weather.gov and the spotter classes here: www.crh.noaa.gov/lbf/?n=lbfspottersched



Corps: Repeat of 2011 Missouri River flooding “highly unlikely”

Missouri River near Council Bluffs in 2011

Missouri River near Council Bluffs in 2011

The experts say major flooding on the Missouri River is not likely this year, but the runoff forecast in the basin above Sioux City has risen to 121% of normal, according to the U-S Army Corps of Engineers.

Jody Farhat, chief of the Corps’ Missouri River Basin Water Management Division in Omaha, says while mountain snowpack is above average, they don’t expect a repeat of the widespread flooding of 2011.

“Runoff in the Missouri basin comes from three sources: plains snowpack, mountain snowpack and rainfall,” Farhat says. “It’s important to remember that the 2011 flood was the result of high runoff from all three of these sources. Currently, only one of those three conditions exists today, the above-normal mountain snowpack, so a repeat of the 2011 flood is highly unlikely.”

Farhat says there is better communication now compared to three years ago.

“We do a lot more coordination now with the other federal agencies, the state climatologists and local folks on developing our runoff forecast and that’s a pretty significant change,” Farhat says. “We’re working with all of the folks that are gathering data and making sure that we’re all singing of the same sheet of music.”

Dennis Todey, the South Dakota state climatologist who works with the Corps on forecasting, says the heavy rain storms that kicked off the massive 2011 flooding were very unusual.

“We can’t give any kind of a long-range outlook to say that something like that kind of storm in Montana in 2011 could or couldn’t happen again, but from a climatological perspective, that was a freakishly large storm where you had 50% of your annual rainfall in one event,” Todey says. “People need to understand that about how bizarre that precipitation event really was.”

Farhat says the only areas that may see some minor flooding this year are downstream in Kansas and Missouri.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton


Drop in temperature might be more to worry about than falling snow

State Climatologist Ken Dewey at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln says forecasts of the snowfall to expect this weekend vary widely for a reason.

“It’s a difficult system to handle, because it’s not coming out as one storm. It’s coming out in three to four pieces of one big storm,” Dewey tells the Jack and Dave in the Morning Show on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN.

Dewey expects the big snowfall to start Saturday afternoon and to continue into Sunday afternoon.

“Our saving grace is the snow is not all going to come in a three hour period. It’s going to be spread over several days; light and fluffy,” Dewey says. “So, hopefully easy to remove from the sidewalks and streets.”

Dewey says some in the media were a bit too quick to report the high-end extreme snowfall forecasts for the weekend.

“There is a potential it’s just going to be a few inches to maybe four or five inches and because it’s spread out over such a long period, really beginning tomorrow (Sat) around noon and lasting until Sunday afternoon, it isn’t going to be concentrated enough to put out any warnings,” according to Dewey. “And it should be able to be plowed off the streets and sidewalks and stuff like that pretty easily.”

Dewey says the snow shouldn’t pose as much a problem as the drastic drop in temperatures. He says to expect temperatures in the single-digits on Sunday, when the normal for this time of year is in the 40s.

March is coming in like a lion

March is going to come in like a lion in eastern Nebraska. National Weather Service in Valley Meteorologist Dave Fobert says Friday’s warmer temperatures will allow the moisture to fall as rain in the eastern part of the state in the afternoon. However, by evening temperatures will drop and then comes the snow.

Fobert says the cold front now is moving through the northeast pat of the state and as it slides to the south very cold air follows. The snow will be a prolonged period that will develop by late Saturday morning into the evening hours. As you get into Saturday night and Sunday morning there will be some lingering snowfall with some areas seeing about 6″.

This is going to be a light, fluffy snowfall due to extremely cold temperatures. By Saturday morning temperatures will range from 5-below to 10 degrees and they won’t budge much during the day. The wind will be out of the north up to 15-mph and that will bring those wind chill values down to about 25-below.