Archive for Monday, March 7, 1994

SKYWARN

March 7, 1994

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Skywarn of Douglas County is looking for people interested in tracking severe weather and warning the public about tornadoes.

People looking skyward on their porches as sirens blare anger Tim Morse.

His motto is that a warning is no good unless heeded.

``If they're that interested in severe weather, then tell them to join Skywarn,'' he said.

Morse is the coordinator for Skywarn of Douglas County, a corps of 40 volunteers that tracks severe storms as they develop, keeping eyes peeled for tornadoes.

Tornado season is just around the corner, and the county's emergency sirens will sound Tuesday, a practice drill for schools, businesses and anyone concerned about public safety.

Morse is taking advantage of the statewide Severe Weather Awareness Week, which begins today, to recruit volunteers.

Although Skywarn members have diverse backgrounds -- they range in age from 19 to 76, Morse said -- they all have a common passion for weather and community.

``We all have the common goal, like giving those people in the hotel, giving them 10 minutes to take cover,'' he said, referring to the July 10 tornado that ripped the roof off the Airport Motel north of Lawrence.

Such volunteer groups are vital for emergency preparedness offices in every county of the state, said Paula Phillips, Douglas County emergency preparedness coordinator.

``The emergency preparedness office is tasked with warning, notifying and communicating,'' she said. ``In order for us to provide appropriate warning and notification of severe weather, we need to know what's going on with the weather.''

In return, the county provides Skywarn radio equipment and space in the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center.

Corporate and individual donations also keep Skywarn in the field. Within the last year, Bendix-King helped the group install a radio tower in central Douglas County, a tower that Morse said should speed up Skywarn's response time.

Morse welcomes whatever support he can get.

``It allows us to do what we do best, and that is provide training and track severe weather, rather than try to have bake sales or car washes to raise funds,'' he said.

Representatives will distribute severe-weather brochures and meet with interested people from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Wal-Mart.

An annual training session is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday in Room 129 of Nichols Hall on Kansas University's West Campus.

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