County to test warning system todayThe spring and summer weather this year has been unusual, according to Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager. Back in April, when Severe Summer Awareness Week is generally held, most of North Dakota was more concerned with flooding and high water. The siren testing and messages promoting public awareness normally associated with the week were postponed.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
The spring and summer weather this year has been unusual, according to Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager.
Back in April, when Severe Summer Awareness Week is generally held, most of North Dakota was more concerned with flooding and high water. The siren testing and messages promoting public awareness normally associated with the week were postponed.
Now, on the first day of July, Stutsman County has not yet had to activate its severe weather warning system.
“It’s very rare that we have not had a severe thunderstorm warning for Stutsman County so far this year,” Bergquist said. “Normally we might have had a dozen by this point.”
But officials aren’t counting on the weather to remain as calm the rest of the summer.
“We will be testing the sirens on Wednesday (today) between 11 a.m. and noon,” he said. “This is the extended test we do once a year normally as part of the statewide event.”
Sirens in Jamestown, Buchanan, Streeter, Medina and Cleveland are controlled by the dispatch center within the Stutsman County Law Enforcement Center and will sound for three minutes. Other communities may also test sirens at that time.
Bergquist said all the sirens within the county-controlled system will be monitored during the test to make sure they sound and rotate, if designed to do so. Sirens are tested briefly on the first and third Wednesday of each month but only tested for the full three minutes of a storm warning once a year.
Bergquist hopes the public will use the opportunity to think about severe summer weather.
“The siren test is a great time to review the tornado plans they have for their family or business,” Bergquist said. “Make sure they have a safe place to go in the event of a storm and know what to do in case they hear the sirens.”
Bergquist said if the sirens are activated people should tune to local radio stations or turn on a television if they have local cable service. Officials at the Law Enforcement Center are able to interrupt the signals of both cable services with local weather information and warnings.
“Don’t call 911 or the LEC,” he said. “Tune in to the local media.”
Another option would be a weather radio, now called an “All Hazard Radio.” Bergquist said look for one with Specific Alert Message Encoding technology. Radios with SAME technology can be programmed to only turn on when storm watches or warnings are broadcast for selected counties.
And residents should understand the terms used during severe weather.
“A watch means to watch for an event that may occur,” Bergquist said. “If the conditions are favorable for a thunderstorm or a tornado the weather service will issue a thunderstorm or tornado watch.”
If the storm forms and is confirmed, a warning will be issued.
“A warning means the weather event has been reported by either people or by weather radar,” he said.
For individuals interested in learning more about summer storms, or looking to serve as volunteer weather spotters, a Weather Spotter Class will be held at 7 p.m. today at the Law Enforcement Center.
The class, sponsored by the Jamestown Amateur Radio Club, is presented by the National Weather Service and is free to the public.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at (701) 952-8452 or by e-mail at email@example.com