Johnson County provides hazardous weather text alerts

From the Shawnee Dispatch

The city of Shawnee sent out the following hazardous weather reminder — including information about Johnson County's SMS text alert system — today:

This past weekend generated severe weather throughout the Midwest with significant damage in both Reading, Kansas, and Joplin, Missouri. The same system that impacted Reading also came through Johnson County late on Saturday night. Much like in Reading, the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Johnson County that covered a large portion of the county and moved in a northeastern pattern. Per policy, Johnson County Emergency Management & Homeland Security activated the outdoor warning siren system to notify local residents of Johnson County that there was imminent threat to their safety.

“The Johnson County outdoor warning siren system is intended to be an outdoor warning system,” said Nick Crossley, Director of Johnson County Emergency Management & Homeland Security, “Some citizens can hear the sirens inside their residences and businesses; however, due to improved building techniques as well as atmospheric conditions such as rain, thunder, and lightning, it is often difficult to hear them inside homes and businesses”.

Sirens are primarily intended for outdoor notification. Johnson County Emergency Management and Homeland Security encourage every home and business owner to have a NOAA All-Hazards alert radio and a plan to respond to weather threats such as tornado warnings. NOAA All Hazard Radios are designed to notify those persons inside a home or business about impending threats. Johnson County Emergency Management & Homeland Security also maintains a SMS text alert system called JOCOAlert that is available for free to local citizens.

“Weather radios and text notification are extremely important parts of Johnson County’s emergency public notification strategy”, continued Crossley, “Since sirens provide no information on the type of threat or exact location of potential danger.” Once a warning is heard, citizens and businesses should seek shelter and then determine the location and type of threat. This will allow them to take appropriate actions to protect themselves, their families or their employees and customers.

Johnson County activates the Outdoor Warning System for one or more of the following reasons:

(1) A tornado warning declared by the National Weather Service

(2) A tornado spotted by a trained weather spotter

(3) A tornado spotted by a public safety official

(4) Duty officer discretion based on accessed risk

Johnson County has the capability of activating all of the sirens at once or by activating one or more of five established siren zones. All sirens are sounded unless the threat is clearly confined to an individual zone (or zones).

People can subscribe to the JOCOAlert text notification system by texting “Follow JOCOAlert” to 40404.

For more information on the Johnson County Outdoor Warning Siren system, NOAA All-Hazard alert radios, or the JOCOAlert system, visit jocoem.org.

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