With prime tornado season upon us, it is important to understand everything that goes into tornado recognition, alerts and actions in the event of a weather emergency.
“Springtime is generally the most active tornado season, but they can really occur at any time,” said Jay Fangman, emergency management specialist. “Anytime you have cold air and warm air coming together it could spin up a tornado.”
People should be wary of tornado watches and tornado warnings should one be announced, but the two alerts have one major difference.
“A tornado watch means conditions are right for the possible formation of tornadoes,” Fangman said. “A tornado warning means a tornado has been spotted by a trained observer or has been identified on radar by a meteorologist.”
Everyone should have a means to receive watches and warnings where they live, he said. Watches and warnings can be received through NOAA weather radio and through the Fort Campbell ALERT! system. ALERT! provides users Fort Campbell-specific weather and emergency information by phone, text, email or by a pop-up on a Fort Campbell computer.
Common access card holders can sign up for ALERT! notifications through the Fort Campbell Intranet homepage. Additionally, the Giant Voice, an outdoor warning system, is specifically implemented to relay important alerts and notices to those who are outside and may not be reachable by the Fort Campbell ALERT! system. If you hear a siren but are unable to make out what is being said, seek shelter and visit an official Fort Campbell information source like the website at https://home.army.mil/campbell/index.php, or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FortCampbell/.
Additionally, emergency messages can be received through the Federal Emergency Management Agency Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, or IPAWS for short. IPAWS uses the same platform that states use to send AMBER alerts, meaning emergency messages are sent through all cellphone towers on Fort Campbell, sending instant notifications to all cellphones withing the Fort Campbell footprint, Fangman said.
Once a warning has been received, it is important to know exactly what to do to remain safe.
Anyone who lives in a “well-built” home should gather all the occupants and take shelter in a small internal room without windows. Strong enough winds can break windows or damage walls, leaving the inner-most part of the home as the safest space to be, Fangman said.
For those living in the barracks, building managers should have emergency action plans specific to each building, he said. And if you live in a mobile home or temporary building seek suitable shelter elsewhere immediately during a tornado warning.