Oakland County urges residents to prepare for severe weather

By: Mary Beth Almond | C&G Newspapers | Published April 8, 2015

OAKLAND COUNTY — Waving goodbye to the snow and ice of winter isn’t hard for most people to do come spring, but county officials want residents to know that as the temperatures increase, so do the chances for severe weather.

Last year, there were 112 storm-based warnings issued in southeast Michigan, three of which were recorded tornadoes. County officials said the recent tornado that touched down in Rochester Hills serves as a reminder of how destructive tornadoes can be and why it is vital to have a severe weather plan.

But it’s not just tornados that pose a threat; winds of 70 mph or more can cause just as much damage, according to the Oakland County Homeland Security Division.

To help remind residents to prepare for the severe thunderstorm and tornado season that typically spans from April until September, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson has designated April 12-18 as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Oakland County.

“Preparedness saves lives and property,” Patterson said in a statement. “Families, schools and businesses should all have an emergency plan in place in the event of severe weather and other disasters.”

During this weeklong observance, the county hopes to heighten public awareness of the Oakland County Outdoor Warning System, as well as promote various steps that residents should take when warning sirens are activated.

Oakland County’s outdoor warning sirens are tested on the first Saturday of every month from March to November. In recognition of Severe Weather Awareness Week, a special test will be conducted at 1 p.m. April 15.

Theodore Quisenberry, the county’s Homeland Security Division manager, said a significant part of Severe Weather Awareness Week is geared toward educating individuals about severe weather safety and the Oakland County Outdoor Warning System. He said the special warning siren test date is a great time for families, businesses and schools to develop and test their own severe weather plans.

“We want to try to increase the awareness of what people should be thinking of as the severe weather opportunities increase during this time,” he said.

In the event of severe weather, residents should have an emergency supply kit on hand that allows them to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours. County officials said the kit should include a three-day supply of water — one gallon per person, per day — food that won’t spoil; one change of clothing and footwear per person; one blanket or sleeping bag per person; a first-aid kit that includes prescription medications; emergency tools, including a battery-powered radio, flashlights and plenty of extra batteries; sanitation supplies; special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members; and an extra pair of glasses.

As part of Severe Weather Awareness Week, the Oakland County Homeland Security Division is also offering free Skywarn spotter training classes. The two-hour courses discuss the basics of thunderstorm development and structure, what features to look for, where to find them, what information to report, how to report it, and basic severe weather safety. Classes will be held from 7-8:30 p.m. April 21 at Farmington Hills City Hall and from 7-8:30 p.m. April 30 at the Commerce Township offices.

Particpants must register for the classes at www.oakgov.com/homelandsecurity.

For more information, visit www.oakgov.com/homelandsecu rity or call (248) 858-5300.