Next week, Story County Emergency Management will be working with various communities and local media during the annual Severe Weather Awareness Week to remind Iowans that understanding the risks associated with severe weather and how to respond to it can save lives. The week of March 24th to March 28th, has been designated Severe Weather Awareness Week, and Story County Emergency Management, Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and the National Weather Service (NWS) are teaming up to provide information through local media, including the Story City Herald, so they can remind the public that we are moving into the severe weather season and give them valuable information that may save their lives.

The highlight of the week is the statewide tornado drill at 10:15 am on Wednesday, March 26th when the Des Moines NWS will issue a test tornado warning to test the notification system. This test is designed to ensure severe weather warnings quickly and accurately flow through the system, ending with a test of the outdoor warning sirens in each Story County community. The test will simultaneously be broadcast NOAA weather radios allowing citizens and businesses the opportunity to ensure that their primary indoor warning system, weather radios, are functioning properly. Story City is taking part in this drill and will test their tornado sirens between 10:15 and 10:30 a.m. on March 26.

State wide details of the tornado test are below:

9:50 AM - Storm Prediction Center (SPC) coordinates with Iowa/Nebraska National Weather Service (NWS) offices about a test tornado watch for Iowa and Nebraska.

10:00 AM - SPC issues Test Tornado Watch for Iowa and Nebraska. Each Iowa/Nebraska NWS offices will issue test Watch Coordination Notification messages. Test watch will be toned alerted on NOAA All Hazards Radio and sent through the Emergency Alert System (EAS) as a test message.

10:15 AM- NWS Des Moines and Quad Cities issue test tornado warnings for their Iowa counties.

10:30-10:35 AM - All Iowa NWS offices issues a Severe Weather Statement to terminate the test warnings.

11:00 AM - Test tornado watch expires.

If severe weather threatens on Wednesday, March 26th, the test will be conducted on Thursday, March 27th at the same time.

We encourage everyone to use this test to do more than check your notification systems. If your NOAA weather radio has a battery back-up, this drill should serve as a reminder to change these batteries. Everyone should also review their disaster preparations which should allow them to be self-sufficient for 72 hours in the wake of any disaster or emergency. Businesses should use this drill to test their procedures to protect the lives of their employees if severe weather strikes during business hours. The test is also a perfect time for businesses to evaluate their plans to continue operations after a storm. Information on assembling disaster kits and business continuity can be located on the new Story County website at Story County Emergency Management under Disaster & Emergency Preparedness.

Another very valuable source of severe weather information is your smart phone. The National Weather Service now sends warnings of severe weather to properly equipped cell phones within a county impacted by the warning. Everyone can go to the following link Wireless Emergency Alert Cell Phones to see if their cell phones have this capability. If this capability isn’t built into the phone, users are encourage to contact their provider or go on-line to see if there is an application that can be downloaded to do this function. The National Weather Service also has a website optimized for mobile devices.

Story County Emergency Management looks forward to working with our local media outlets to provide this valuable information and we can work one on one with interested partners to develop news events to meet your needs. We can also be followed through Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/storycountyema which is being used for public education and Emergency Management activities.