Getting warned about severe weather - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/21/09

Getting warned about severe weather

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Last Thursday the National Weather Service tells us nearly 50 severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings were issued in a ten hour period across the South Plains.  We looked specifically into what Lubbock does to get warnings issued.

The National Weather Service in Lubbock is the key to issuing weather warnings to the 24 counties that make up the South Plains.

On Thursday we got our first big taste of the severe weather season. "We have spotters which we position around the thunderstorms to provide and relay information, even though we have great technology we still fill the gaps in with human observers and eyes in the field to see what is really going on," said Steve Cobb with the National Weather Service. 

Cobb says after warnings are issued it's up to local media and weather radios to get the word out. "We are a part of tornado alley, the city of Lubbock has been hit by a tornado before back in 1970 so we know what the capabilities of that type of storm can do to a city, this is where we live, be prepared for it," said Lubbock Fire Chief Rhea Cooper.

Cooper says it's a citizen's responsibility to take the correct measures to keep themselves safe. He says using the city's telephone alert system is not an option because it would take more than an hour to contact all 60,000 households in Lubbock. "What will that storm do within a one hour period; they are moving very rapidly, developing very quickly this time of year so it's not an effective method. We are also telling people who are in homes with basements go to your basement go into a protective area of your home we don't want to be then calling them on the phone and drawing them out of those safe areas," said Cooper. 

Other residents may question why Lubbock doesn't have tornado sirens, when most communities even Texas Tech utilizes them for tornado warnings. "Outdoor sirens are not designed to wake you up in the middle of the night in the event of a thunderstorm coming into your community," said Cobb.

That's why Cobb and Cooper say weather radios are so important, because they will go off in the middle of the night and wake you up if severe weather is on its way. "We are connected, we have ways of knowing this information, the information is all around you, all you have to do is look at it when you are in a severe weather situation," said Cooper. 

Cooper also adds the city does send out spotters to watch for storms and works with the National Weather Service to get alerts out.

If you haven't gotten your weather radio yet, you can pick them up at any United Supermarkets. They run for just under $30.

Web Extra: Uncut Video from Severe Weather on the South Plains
Check out exclusive, un-cut video from the storms that marched their way across the South Plains.

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