As storm season approaches, Camden County’s emergency management director said it’s prudent for a refresher about storm season.


Across the state, events are being planned this week to increase awareness of the beginning of storm season.


As storm season approaches, Camden County’s emergency management director said it’s prudent for a refresher about storm season.

Across the state, events are being planned this week to increase awareness of the beginning of storm season.

“The Ozarks storm season can be as kind as it can be violent,” Denise Russell, director of CCEMA, said. “Now is the time of year when everyone should break out the weather radio, dust it off, give it fresh back-up batteries, turn it on and leave it on.”

This last year proved a challenge in terms of storm prediction both for the National Weather Service and for the emergency management staff.  The lake area experienced storms that produced funnels from almost instantly severe thunderstorms without warning leeway.   

“The more often we experience these storm trends, the more urgent the need for pre-event preparedness,” Russell said. “Have a plan that requires no last minute thought, only action. Gather the supplies, put them in the car, by the basement door, in the basement or shelter area.”  

Do not rely on the sirens to tell you a tornado is coming, it may well already be here, Russell said. Pay heed to the watches that are activated in this area. Watches mean watch the sky. Warnings mean it’s already here.

Act accordingly and think about what message you are sending your children.  If you put your family in the shelter space and then you go outside to “watch the weather” what message are you sending, she said.

It’s also important for residents to understand the functions of the emergency management office and the relationship with response agencies, Russell said.

“At the NWS’s prediction of a potential storm, I receive notification, which is then passed to our EOC staff and the local response agencies — a head’s up, so to speak. When the event is shaping up, the EOC is activated and we monitor the situation,” she said. “In the event we determine we need ‘weather spotters’ activated for an eye on the ground, we notify the specific area agencies, including amateur radio spotters, emergency services spotters, etc.”

Those firefighters, law enforcement officers and radio spotters feed information back to the EOC, which is, in turn, provided in a specific format to the NWS through a specialized emergency management Internet feed. This information assists the NWS in determining the storm activity and movement. This information is also instrumental in determining the next set of polygon warnings that may need to be issued.  

In the last few years, the NWS has gone to a polygon warning system. It has been tested and tried previously, but is now used almost exclusively. Polygons are specific areas of warning that are far more concentrated than before. They can target specific areas such as zip codes, multiple city coordinates, etc, or the old fashioned way with blanket county level alerts.