Severe Weather Awareness Week: Tornadoes

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Nebraska’s statewide tornado drill happened on Wednesday morning, with 103 sirens sounding the alarm across Lancaster County.

“I activated the outdoor warning sirens at 10 o’clock this morning, participating in the statewide tornado drill,” said Jim Davidsaver, director of Lincoln-Lancaster County Emergency Management.

But there’s a limitation to these sirens: They’re really only good when you are outdoors.

“I am always very specific that when I refer to the outdoor warning sirens,” Davidsaver said. “I use that specific term: outdoor warning sirens. That’s who the intended target is: people who are outside who don’t have ready access to a cellphone or other means of notification.”

You should have multiple ways to get weather alerts, including:

  • NOAA weather radio
  • Channel 8 Storm Alert Team
  • Radio
  • Friends and family
  • Apps on your phone (radar, mobile NWS, etc.)
  • Wireless emergency alerts

The sirens are set up in five zones across Lancaster: one in the middle for Lincoln, then one for each corner of the county.

Only the appropriate zones are activated. depending on the storm.

Even though Emergency Management isn’t staffed 27/7, officials can still make sure the sirens go off.

“The 911 center that is staffed 24/7, they have access to the same siren panel that I do,” Davidsaver said. “So if I call them and say, Activate the siren in these zones,’ it’s quickly done.”

Last year, April had the most tornadoes in Nebraska of any month: 10.

But April through about July is when most tornadoes historically happen in Nebraska, usually between the late afternoon and early evening hours.

Knowing what to do before, during and after a tornado is important.

“Hopefully you’re monitoring the weather forecast, tuned in to local media and have a cellphone alert that’s readily available,” he said. “It’s always good to have a Plan A and a Plan B.”

The best place to be during a tornado is inside a well-built structure with a basement or underground storm shelter.

Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside, covering yourself with a blanket or sturdy furniture.

The greatest risk is flying debris and structural collapse.

And stay “weather aware” after the tornado because there could be additional rounds of severe weather.

Let your loved ones know you are OK, and beware of downed power lines, broken gas lines and other dangerous debris.

Meteorologist Jessica Blum 
Twitter: JessicaBlumWx 
Facebook: JessicaBlumWx

Categories: Channel 8 Eyewitness News Weather, Lancaster, Nebraska News, News, Severe Weather, Top Stories, Weather