Storm Season is Here. Prepare Now.

Storm season is upon us, and many communities across the United States have been inundated with severe weather in this Spring. My local news stations have done a great job keeping us informed about developments, but in a recent outbreak of storms, I found myself unaware of a weather warning. We were almost too late.

The iPhone provides an option to receive government alerts, as I’m sure most other modern cells phones do. I trust that the emergency alerts will come through. Not just Amber Alerts, but Severe Weather alerts as well. I learned that it’s not enough to rely on that system alone. We were recently under a tornado warning, but neither my wife or I got an alert. The warning was issued 20 minutes before the storm was over our house, but we didn’t find out until we had less than five minutes to prepare. We did get an alert for a subsequent tornado warning, but that was after the storm had passed and for an area 10 miles away from us.

From our safe room, I tuned in to a local news live broadcast in Safari. That was great, and they gave us plenty of information. I was troubled, however, at how much they relied on social media for getting these warnings out. Many people are on social media, and we should use all available means to get the word out, but we need to do more for those who aren’t on Facebook and Twitter, like me. I checked several news stations, and their websites were not updated frequently enough to get the most critical information out to the public.

Based on that experience, I’ve circled back to do much of the storm prep that I should’ve done over the winter. Today’s updates to CARROT Weather, my weather app of choice, will certainly help. I signed up for the Tier 3 membership for those severe weather days. I use Feedbin for my RSS needs, and I found out that the National Weather Service has RSS feeds for their weather alerts, by state and by county. I subscribed to my county’s alert feed, and set up that feed in Feedbin Notifier to provide push notifications to my phone.

In terms of supplies, I bought a weather radio from Amazon, which my kids are fascinated with. I put together a go-bag filled with our essentials, and made preparation plans on severe weather days. When Alison is home, I’ve got backup to get us to safety. During the week, however, I may have 20 minutes or less to get the kids to the safe room with everything that we need.

As an aside, severe weather alerts really seems like an area where home assistants like Siri, Alexa, and others could help us proactively. If my phone can go off, why shouldn’t my HomePod?

It’s a mistake to not take the time to prepare for severe weather. It most likely won’t happen to us, but those close calls are a good reminder. Make sure you have a severe weather plan, have redundancies for severe weather alerts, gather the tools and supplies that you need, now. This upcoming long weekend is a great chance for you to check this important to-do off.

We’re entering storm season in the United States. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

© 2019 Chet J. Collins