Sunday, April 15, 2012

Midwest Weather.

Yesterday was another stormy one. The system that moved through killed at least five people in Oklahoma who died in part because lightning knocked out power to the sirens.
Most tornado cells dissipate after sundown. They are fueled by the heat from the sun, so early mornings and night are the times of least activity. That's not always the case, and last night was an example of how bad things can be.
Never rely on the local warning system. As happened in Woodward, they can and do fail. Instead, have a reliable weather radio handy. I check mine regularly, and it sits atop my headboard. Sure, I get less sleep on nights like last night, but my bed is more comfortable than the crawl space.
A friend called me yesterday. They pulled out their weather radio at work to test it, and it was dead. I told him that since I was on my way into town, and would be close to his work that I would pick one up for him. HA! Walmart was out. Menard's, out. Ace Hardware, out. Sears, none. Radio Shack? Sold out. Home Depot, nada. Target, none their either. Kmart? Surprise, they had a couple of em, so I grabbed one, and off to my friends work. Bad news, it would not pick up inside the building, and it was not programmable. Worse yet, it was not a digital tune, just the old dial and it did not have an alert feature. It worked out at the far end of their parking lot, but that doesn't do much good.
Back to the search. I found another at Tractor Supply, but it too was problematic. It was a digital, it was programmable, but it had poor reception inside the building. Plus side is it is made like a walkie talkie, and clips onto the belt.
My own unit is a Midland. I have never had problems with it. When I worked in Manufacturing, we had Midland units there, and they functioned flawlessly inside the building even with all kinds of electrical interference.
Another line of defense is your cell phone. many of the stations in the area have cell phone alerts where they send you a text any time there is a watch or warning in your area. They are great, but if a system should take out a tower, you are in trouble.
The NOAA system has three transmitters in my area, One at Blue Rapids, one in Topeka, and one at Abilene. I doubt any storm could kill all three. cell towers though rely on the local power grid, and if it crashes, they only have a few hours of reserve power before they are down for the duration. I'm not saying don't use them, by all means, do. Multiple alert systems can mean a difference between being a spectator, and being the main feature on the late news. Speaking of which, if possible, always stay tuned to your local station, either TV or radio. They stay up to the minute, furnish constant coverage, and since they often have staff on the ground, have a better picture of what is going on.
Last night five people died. Last year, one hundred sixty plus. Nature can be a mother. You cannot win, and you cannot break even. Better to avoid the fight by being below ground.
I would recommend the Midland weather radio to any one. While the Weather X has several nice features, namely a crank dynamo, and a built in light, its lacking in reception capability, and that's the most important feature. The Acu Rite has nice portability features but again, reception sucked. Either is better then nothing though, and supply isn't meeting demand.  At least not this weekend in Kansas.

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