At approximately 9:03am Sunday, the NOAA Weather Alert System radios in Southwest Washington began going off with a rare Tornado warning. While Tornados are not often seen here, this fall has seen a dramatic increase in strikes, especially along the southwest Washington coast.
Locally, we were experiencing a severe thunder and lightening storm with heavy rain – also somewhat rare for our area. Rain we get – thunder and lightening are rare.
The Tornado alert lasted approximately 45 minutes. During a second warning, the possible strike area was narrowed down to Pacific and Wahkiakum Counties but the storm was moving to the east at 30 mph. SKYWARN weather spotters were asked to provide “boots on the ground” information. Warnings were issued by Centralia ARES to disconnect any electrical equipment and amateur radio equipment.
At 10:20am with the storm mostly passed to the east, Centralia ARES conducted an activation drill using the MyStateUSA notification system as well as the regular email system to notify team members to come up on the air at 10:30am using the K7CEM repeater.
As with any unannounced drill, only a few team members were able to respond – especially with the 10 minute time period given for activation. Those that were able to participate were checked into the activation net and asked three questions: (1) What were your local weather conditions at the height of the storm, (2) what precautionary steps did you take to safeguard your homes and equipment and (3) could you deploy for an actual activation at that time had you been needed.
It was great to hear that most had given some thought to being safe, disconnecting their electrical and radio equipment and even checking to be sure their go-bags were handy. While no actual damage occurred in our area, other than a good drenching, this turned out to be an excellent test of our preparedness systems. Thanks to everyone who participated.
Bob Willey, kd7own, Centralia ARES Emergency Coordinator