Emergency Management

This is Winter Awareness Week — already!

/Photo by Dave Dyet via stock.xchng

From the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department:

Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth has joined with Governor Scott Walker in proclaiming November 5th through the 9th, 2012, as Winter Awareness Week in Wisconsin.

“The purpose of Winter Awareness Week is to get people thinking about and preparing for winter weather conditions that can threaten their safety,” Beth said. “Now is the time to winterize your car and home, put new batteries in your NOAA All Hazard Weather radio and prepare emergency kits for your home and vehicle. Being prepared for winter weather means knowing what different weather terminology means, staying tuned to changing weather conditions, and being prepared at home, at work, and at school for potential power outages and severe winter weather.”

Winter storms are known as deceptive killers because most deaths are indirectly linked to the weather: like traffic accidents on icy roads, people having strokes or heart attacks from over exertion (shoveling, snow blowing) and people dying from prolonged exposure to the cold. To keep people informed and aware of upcoming weather conditions, the National Weather Service has developed key weather terminology so that people will always know what type of weather may be coming their way. People need to be aware of local forecasts and warnings, and familiarize themselves with key weather terminology so that they remain safe and are always prepared for what Mother Nature has in store for them. Current and upcoming winter weather information can always be found 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on NOAA All Hazard Weather radios; the radio frequency assigned to Kenosha/Racine is 162.450 MHz; NOAA radios can be purchased at many stores with prices ranging from $30 – $80.

To stay informed on winter weather, the National Weather Service has established the following Advisories and Warnings:

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Emergency Management to open operations center for storm problems

Kenosha County Emergency Management is setting up an Emergency Operations Center to deal with any storm-related issues over the next couple of days.

Problems most likely will be near the Lake Michigan shoreline as high winds and waves as high as 18 feet are expected.

Here’s the press release:

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Tornado watches and warnings this afternoon starting at 1 p.m. part of test

The five National Weather Service offices that service Wisconsin will conduct a test of the tornado watch and warning codes today.

A test tornado watch will be issued at 1 p.m. Test tornado warnings will be issued at 1:45 p.m., which should be followed by a sounding of the warning sirens. Both will expire at 2 p.m.

On some alert systems, the watches and warnings may appear to be real if the words “test” are not seen.

Storm press conference coverage

A split tree on the lawn in front of the Kenosha County Courthouse.

Kenosha Mayor Keith Bosman and representatives of the fire, police and county government held a press conference a little after midnight at the Civil War Museum concerning  the storm that hit eastern Kenosha County Thursday evening.

An intense thunderstrom about 10 miles out over Lake Michigan, combining with another weather system caused the damaging

City and county officials meet with the press regarding Thursday evening's storm: (from left) Jennie Tunkieicz, assistant to County Executive Jim Kreuser; Kenosha Police Lt. Thomas Hamm; Kenosha Fire Department Chief John Thomsen; and Kenosha Mayor Keith Bosman.

winds, estimated to be between 70 and 80 mph.

The storm did result in one fatality. Lt. Thomas Hamm, spokesman for the Kenosha Police Department, said a motorcyclist was killed when he was hit by a falling tree in the 7600 block of 25th Avenue. The 31-year-old man from Kenosha was not identified.

Two people who suffered injuries from fallen power lines were not seriously injured, said fire Chief John Thomsen. The fire department also responded to eight roof fires and one structure fire.

Some 22,000 people were reportedly without power, said Jennie Tunkiewicz, assistant to County Executive Jim Kreuser.

Most of the fallen trees, branches and electrical wires were east of 30th Avenue. Bosman said some 70 plus public works employees were working tonight to clean up.

Bosman could not give a firm estimate of how long that work might last.

“We’re assessing the damage,” Bosman said. “It’s something that has to be done, the clean up has to be done.”

Downed wires can be very hazardous, officials warned.

“Be patient, but be very cautious,” Bosman said.

Citizens are being urged to stay away from downed power lines. Call WE Energies at 1-800-662-4797 for assistance with power lines.

The officials said no requests for shelter had been received so far.

Here is video from the press conference:

It’s time to build heat awareness

Photo by Vaughn Willis vis stock.xchng

Did you realize that Thursday was Wisconsin Heat Awareness Day?

Probably not, based on the temperatures that battled to reach 60 degrees. But remember earlier in the week when the heat index was pushing 100?  Believe it or not, those temps will be back and the county wants you to know how to stay healthy when they are here again.

Kenosha County Executive Jim Kreuser joined with Governor Walker in proclaiming June 9, 2011, as Wisconsin Heat Awareness Day.

“This is a good time to review how heat and humidity affects you,” Kreuser said. “Heat is America’s Number One Weather related killer. Knowing what you can do to stay cool can save your life.”

“Per the National Weather Service, between 1982 and 2010, Kenosha County experienced 17 Heat Wave events representing 61 Heat Wave Days resulting in four deaths,” stated Lt. Ed Van Tine, Director, Kenosha County Emergency Management.

“People who are most vulnerable to heat-related illness and death are the elderly, infants, young children, people with chronic heart or lung problems, people with disabilities, overweight people, those who work outdoors or in hot settings, users of some medications, especially those taken for mental disorders, movement disorder, allergies, depression and heart or circulatory problems. Other vulnerable people are those who are isolated and don’t know when or how to cool off or when to call for help,” Van Tine said.

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Warning siren use explained

Were you suprised by the sounding of the county’s outdoor warning sirens yesterday given that no tornado was being forecast?

The Emergency Management division of the Sheriff’s Department has found itself explaining that a lot today. Here’s the explanation offered by Sgt. Bill Beth, KCSD public information officer.

Outdoor warning sirens are activated for three conditions : 1) A tornado has been sighted by trained spotter/law enforcement 2) The National Weather Service sees rotation and believes the formation of a tornado is highly possible and/or 3) Severe Thunderstorm Warning with Hurricane Force Winds (winds at or in excess of 74 mph).

Yesterday, we had a situation of Severe Thunderstorms with winds in excess of 74 mph. The sirens are re-activated if there is an extension of the warning.

The sirens are not only used for tornadoes. If anyone is thinking that the sirens should not have been used yesterday because there were no tornado warnings, they are not fully understanding the use of the sirens.

Severe thunderstorm warning issued

The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm warning for all of Kenosha County until 9 p.m.

Kenosha County Emergency Management is reporting that the storm is producing quarter sized hail and “hurricane force” winds.

UPDATE 9:03 p.m. — Severe thunderstorm warning extended — with winds in excess of 74 miles per hour — until 10 p.m.

Tornado watch issued for county

At 2:05 p.m., the National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for Kenosha County and 35 other Wisconsin counties.

The watch is in effect until 10 p.m.

Emergency crews conducting drill

Photo by elvis santana via stock.xchng

If at about 4:45 p.m. or so you are seeing a lot of emergency response from fire departments — especially heading in the direction of Highways 31 and A — it is likely related to a drill being conducted at Petrifying Springs County Park.

The drill is a full-scale exercise that will test the ability of area departments to work together to manage a hazardous materials incident, according to a press release from the Sheriff’s Department.

Fire departments from throughout the county are participating.

This is Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week

NOAA stock photo /public domain

April 11 to 15 has been proclaimed Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week, by Kenosha County Executive Jim Kreuser and Gov. Scott Walker.

During this time a statewide tornado drill is scheduled for Thursday, April 14 (Note: I’m checking on this to see whether this day or date is correct since Friday is April 15 Corrected day now — DH).. At approximately 1 p.m., a mock tornado watch will be issued for the entire state  and at approximately 1:20 p.m., a mock tornado warning will be issued for all of Southeast Wisconsin, which will include the sounding of Kenosha County’s Outdoor Warning sirens. The drill will conclude at 2 p.m. If severe weather should be present in the state on Thursday, April 14, the mock tornado drill will be cancelled.

As part of Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week, Kenosha County will be sponsoring a free Advanced Tornado Spotter’s Class on Thursday April 28, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Kenosha County Center (Highways 45 and 50). Though the class is free, people need to RSVP to Kenosha County Emergency Management at 605-7900 to reserve a spot. A Basic Tornado Spotter’s Class is required prior to taking the Advanced Class.

“The Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week and the mock tornado drill offer opportunities for schools, businesses and families to discuss and practice for severe weather activities. It’s important that everyone regardless of where they are at when severe weather strikes, know what to do and where to go,” Kreuser said.

“The purpose of Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week, is to get people thinking about not only tornadoes and what one needs to do to protect themselves, their families and their property, but other types of severe weather as well,” said Lt. Ed Van Tine, Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department and director, Kenosha County Emergency Management. “People need to be aware of the dangers of severe thunderstorms/lightning which cause an average of 93 deaths and 300 injuries per year nationwide; flash floods/floods which kill nearly 140 people per year nationwide and cause millions of dollars in damages.”

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Kenosha County municipalities eligible for blizzard cost assistance

The state has determined that  Kenosha County has exceeded the threshold needed for public assistance for the Ground Hog Day Blizzard, the county’s Emergency Management Office has announced.

This determination means federal reimbursement could be made available to local governmental bodies — county, municipal, schools, some non-profits.

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