Posts tagged with Weather

Heat advisory extended to 7 p.m. Tuesday

The Johnson County Health Department, in cooperation with the Johnson County Library, encourages citizens who need a place to cool down during hot days to visit one of 13 library branches.

All branches — including the De Soto branch at 33145 W. 83rd Street — will be available during normal business hours.

A heat advisory was issued on Monday and extended until 7 p.m. Tuesday, according to Johnson County Emergency Management and Homeland Security alerts.

At the libraries, visitors also can read books, magazines and newspapers, or access the Internet. Library hours vary by location. Call (913) 826-4600 to check hours of operation for the nearest library branch, or visit jocolibrary.org.

The health department recommends the following to stay safe in the heat:

• Drink more fluids (non-alcoholic), regardless of your activity level. Check with your doctor if you have restrictions related to fluid intake.

• Stay indoors and, if possible, in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go somewhere cool — even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.

• Electric fans may provide comfort, but when temperatures are in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness.

• Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

• If you must be out in the heat, limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.

• Exercise in an air-conditioned place and drink two to four glasses of cool, non-alcoholic fluids each hour. A sports drink can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat.

• If you have to be outside, try to rest often in shady areas.

• Protect yourself from the sun by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher and wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.

Although anyone at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some are at greater risk than others. Be sure to check regularly on:

• People aged 65 or older;

• People taking certain medications, including narcotics, sedatives, and diuretics;

• Toddlers left in cars and infants less than one year old;

• Athletes who are not used to working out in warm environments;

• People who work outside;

• And those who have a mental illness or are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure.

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Johnson County under heat advisory, ozone alert

The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for Johnson County from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. today and the MidAmerica Regional Council has ordered an orange-level ozone alert.

According to the NWS, temperatures this afternoon could reach the mid-90s, with heat indexes reaching up to 103 degrees. MARC's ozone alert indicates that an unhealthy level of smog is expected in the area. Time spent outdoors should be limited under these conditions, especially for those with respiratory illnesses, the elderly and children, according to both organizations.

For more safety precautions, the Red Cross offers these tips.

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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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City employees respond to disaster areas through Kansas Disaster Assessment Team

Before a town struck by natural disaster can begin to rebuild, the damage has to be assessed. Structures hit by tornadoes have to be inspected for safety and flood damage has to be placed on a scale of livable or a health risk, all before the real clean-up can begin.

In the state of Kansas, the group responsible for this job is the Kansas Disaster Assessment Team and De Soto City Clerk Lana McPherson and Building Official Steve Chick are members.

"As a community, if disaster were to strike in De Soto, we would look to other communities for assistance," Chick said. "It's only right that we help them too."

As members of the team, Chick and McPherson may be called to respond to any disaster in the state of Kansas. In 2007, Chick was on the scene in Greensburg, Kan. to help with the assessment process and this past Sunday, McPherson reported to Reading.

"You never know when you'll need to go, especially this time of year," McPherson said. "We keep bags packed and gear ready and can leave at the drop of a hat."

At the scene, wherever it may be, Chick's job is to assess building structures and place them on a damage scale. McPherson completes paperwork documenting the amount of damage done to each parcel in the area, paperwork that is necessary to receive aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"We're there to start the process that will eventually lead to rebuilding," Chick said.

While the job they do is an important one and one they willingly take up, it is not an easy job. Not every building can be listed on the damage assessment scale, it is simply gone.

"You have to remind yourself you're there to do a job, it would be so easy to stop and put your arms around a family looking at the remains of their home and cry with them but you can't," McPherson said. "What I can do is stand there as I write on my clipboard and fill out forms is listen to their stories, that's all they truly want."

Both McPherson and Chick are quick to point out that they are not the only ones from De Soto helping other communities. Their efforts would not be possible without the support of other city staff, they said.

"It's a team effort, really," McPherson said. "When we're gone, out working in another community, everyone here in De Soto steps up and helps fill our spots."

"It's really a city contribution," Chick said. "It's like we're ambassadors for De Soto and people recognize that."

Working with KDAT requires intensive initial training and frequent refresher courses, but McPherson and Chick still encourage others to find a way to help if interested. The best place to start, according to McPherson, is the Johnson County Emergency Management department. The City of De Soto will also be sponsoring its first-ever Community Service Day this fall, details are still to come, according to Chick.

"De Soto is comparable to larger cities when it comes to being there to help, it always has been," said McPherson, who has lived in De Soto her whole life. "We as a city are always there, people know we will always step up for those in need and that says a lot about the people here."

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Update: NWS issues tornado warning until noon

The National Weather Service has upgraded Johnson County to a tornado warning until noon. The sirens heard in De Soto are not test sirens and the Northwest Consolidated Fire District recommends seeking shelter immediately.

The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. has issued a tornado watch for Johnson County in effect until 6 p.m. tonight.

The storm system moving through the area is capable of producing hail up to two inches in diameter and winds up to 70 mph, according to the NWS.

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County sends emergency help to tornado-ravaged Joplin, Mo.

By noon Monday the Johnson County Emergency Medical Service (MED-ACT) had dispatched five ambulances to Joplin, Mo., to assist in medical emergencies in the aftermath of a deadly tornado that struck the city Sunday evening.

The deployment to assist in Joplin involves 11 MED-ACT personnel. Three ambulance units, including a chief officer and five paramedics, were dispatched to the Missouri city about 4 a.m. Monday and arrived about 6:45 a.m. Two other units, with an additional five paramedics, were deployed before noon Monday along with a SUV for use by the chief officer.

“Our jobs are saving lives and providing medical assistance. Anytime there’s an emergency or natural disaster we are ready to go and assist wherever we are needed, both locally and regionally,” MED-ACT Chief Ted McFarlane said in a news release. “Helping people in times of crisis has no state boundaries. Joplin asked for our assistance, and we quickly responded.”

The units and personnel from Johnson County MED-ACT will be deployed for an initial 72 hours. The deployment will be extended longer, as needed, for rescue and recovery efforts in Joplin.

Nick Crossley, director of Johnson County Emergency Management and Homeland Security, said Johnson County would provide additional assistance, if requested and needed, in Joplin. The deployment of the MedAct units and personnel was requested Monday by the state of Missouri through the Kansas Department of Emergency Management to provide assistance to a federally-declared disaster site as authorized under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC).

“I have been notified that there was an official EMAC request from the state of Missouri to MedAct to provide EMS assistance. This means that personnel costs and other costs associated with the deployment will be reimbursed by the state of Kansas,” he said.

The deployment to Joplin is the second time Johnson County personnel have been sent to a disaster region in another state within the past few weeks. Two employees – one from Emergency Management, the other from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office – returned only a few days ago after assisting for 10 days in Clanton, Ala., after a series of tornadoes that killed more than 300 people in Southern states.

“It is important to support our fellow citizens and the national emergency management system we have developed in the United States by providing assistance, when we can, to other jurisdictions. The system is set up so that jurisdictions from outside the impacted area can help those requiring assistance in times of disasters,” Crossley said.

The deployment of MED-ACT personnel to Joplin was occurring at the same time deputies from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office were being dispatched Monday to Reading, in the aftermath of a tornado that struck the small Lyon County community late Saturday night, killing one man.

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Tornado watch issued for Johnson County until early Wednesday

The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., has issued a tornado watch for Johnson County until 3 a.m. Wednesday.

According to the weather service, there is a moderate risk of large tornadoes and damaging winds, as well as a high risk of severe hail.

A strong line of storms is moving through southern Kansas and Oklahoma and several tornadoes have touched down. There have been reports of a half-mile wide tornado in Oklahoma.

These storms are expected to move north and east as the evening wears on.

A tornado watch means conditions are favorable for the formation of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms, but none have been reported in this area at this time. Stay tuned to local media and the NOAA weather radios for updates on this potentially dangerous storm system.

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Disaster officials urge Kansans to prepare for tornadoes

State disaster officials are urging Kansans to have a plan for dealing with the possibility of coming face-to-face with a tornado.

Despite living in the Midwest, where tornadoes frequently threaten the spring and early-summer weather, relatively few Kansas residents actually have a home tornado plan or disaster supply kit in place, according to the Red Cross.

“I can’t stress how important it is for people to take storm warnings seriously and be prepared,” said Angee Morgan, deputy director of Kansas Division of Emergency Management. “We’ve had one tornado-related death this year in Kansas. One life lost is too many. We can’t stop tornadoes from happening, but we can prepare for them to minimize loss of life.”

In the past few days, tornadoes in both Reading, Kan., and Joplin, Mo., have developed so rapidly that little, if any, advance warning was possible.

The American Red Cross and the Kansas Division of Emergency Management offer this advice for the tornado season:

Prepare a home tornado plan

  • Pick a place where family members could gather if a tornado is headed your way. It could be your basement or, if there is no basement, a center hallway, bathroom or closet on the lowest floor. Keep this place uncluttered.

  • If you are in a high-rise building, you may not have enough time to go to the lowest floor. Pick a place in a hallway in the center of the building.

Assemble a disaster supplies kit

The kit should contain items for at least three days and should contain:

  • First Aid kit and essential medications.
  • Canned food and can opener.At least three gallons of water per person per day.
  • Protective clothing, bedding or sleeping bags.
  • Battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members.
  • Written instructions on how to turn off electricity, gas and water if authorities advise you to do so. (Remember, you'll need a professional to turn natural gas service back on.)

Stay tuned for storm warnings

  • Listen to your local radio and television stations for updated storm information.-

  • Know what a tornado watch and warning means. A tornado watch means a tornado is possible in your area; tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted and may be headed for your area. Go to safety immediately.

When a tornado watch is issued...

  • Listen to local radio and television stations for further updates.

  • Be alert to changing weather conditions. Blowing debris or the sound of an approaching tornado may alert you. Many people say it sounds like a freight train.

When a tornado warning is issued...

  • If you are inside, go to the safe place you picked to protect yourself from glass and other flying objects. The tornado may be approaching your area.

  • If you are outside, hurry to the basement of a nearby sturdy building or lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area.

  • If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head for safety (as above).

After the tornado passes...

  • Watch out for fallen power lines and stay out of the damaged area.

  • Listen to the radio for information and instructions.

  • Use a flashlight to inspect your home for damage.

  • Do not use candles at any time.

For more information on emergency kits and safety in storms, go online to ksready.gov, accesskansas.org/kdem, and fema.gov.

For those without a storm shelter, the De Soto City Hall will be open for those seeking protection. Only the lower hallway accessible via the ADA entrance on the east side of the building has been deemed a proper shelter. During non-business hours, the Northwest Consolidated Fire District will open that entrance, people interested in using the hallway during non-business hours should call the fire district first to see if they have opened the door. They may be reached at (913) 583-1196.

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Disaster officials urge Kansans to prepare for tornadoes

State disaster officials are urging Kansans to have a plan for dealing with the possibility of coming face-to-face with a tornado.

Despite living in the Midwest, where tornadoes frequently threaten the spring and early-summer weather, relatively few Kansas residents actually have a home tornado plan or disaster supply kit in place, according to the Red Cross.

“I can’t stress how important it is for people to take storm warnings seriously and be prepared,” said Angee Morgan, deputy director of Kansas Division of Emergency Management. “We’ve had one tornado-related death this year in Kansas. One life lost is too many. We can’t stop tornadoes from happening, but we can prepare for them to minimize loss of life.”

In the past few days, tornadoes in both Reading, Kan., and Joplin, Mo., have developed so rapidly that little, if any, advance warning was possible.

The American Red Cross and the Kansas Division of Emergency Management offer this advice for the tornado season:

Prepare a home tornado plan

  • Pick a place where family members could gather if a tornado is headed your way. It could be your basement or, if there is no basement, a center hallway, bathroom or closet on the lowest floor. Keep this place uncluttered.

  • If you are in a high-rise building, you may not have enough time to go to the lowest floor. Pick a place in a hallway in the center of the building.

Assemble a disaster supplies kit

The kit should contain items for at least three days and should contain:

  • First Aid kit and essential medications.
  • Canned food and can opener.At least three gallons of water per person per day.
  • Protective clothing, bedding or sleeping bags.
  • Battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members.
  • Written instructions on how to turn off electricity, gas and water if authorities advise you to do so. (Remember, you'll need a professional to turn natural gas service back on.)

Stay tuned for storm warnings

  • Listen to your local radio and television stations for updated storm information.-

  • Know what a tornado watch and warning means. A tornado watch means a tornado is possible in your area; tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted and may be headed for your area. Go to safety immediately.

When a tornado watch is issued...

  • Listen to local radio and television stations for further updates.

  • Be alert to changing weather conditions. Blowing debris or the sound of an approaching tornado may alert you. Many people say it sounds like a freight train.

When a tornado warning is issued...

  • If you are inside, go to the safe place you picked to protect yourself from glass and other flying objects. The tornado may be approaching your area.

  • If you are outside, hurry to the basement of a nearby sturdy building or lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area.

  • If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head for safety (as above).

After the tornado passes...

  • Watch out for fallen power lines and stay out of the damaged area.

  • Listen to the radio for information and instructions.

  • Use a flashlight to inspect your home for damage.

  • Do not use candles at any time.

For more information on emergency kits and safety in storms, go online to ksready.gov, accesskansas.org/kdem, and fema.gov.-

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Area residents check in with loved ones in Joplin

When Amber Lee heard about Sunday’s tornado in Joplin, Mo., the first thing she did was run to the phone to call her sister-in-law, who is an X-ray technician at St. John’s Regional Medical Center, which was hit hard by the twister.

“When my husband was on the phone, his face was just stone white. It was one of those deals where you didn’t know what the person on the other end was going to say,” Lee said.

A little relief was on the other end of that call. His sister’s shift at the hospital had ended just an hour before the tornado hit.

Lee, a program director and operations manager for 92.9 The Bull in Lawrence, worked in Joplin for six years as a radio DJ and had both of her kids there. She was able to contact just about all of her friends in the city and reported they were all OK.

“When you’re talking to them yesterday ... they were assessing everything that just happened, coming out of basement ... speechless like ‘I’m fine,’” Lee said.

“Then you realize what actually happened. You just say ‘Oh God, oh God, oh God’ and ‘are you sure so-and-so’s OK? Are you sure so-and-so’s OK?’ Undescribable.”

Jerry Banks, a Kansas University junior from Toronto, Kan., has two aunts and several cousins who live in Joplin. Banks first saw the news of the storm on Twitter and called his parents to let them know. His father was able to reach the rest of the family to confirm their safety and said one aunt’s house was one of two in its neighborhood that was not destroyed.

Despite Banks’ professional interests — he’s an atmospheric science major — his thoughts on the disaster are like anyone else’s.

“I hate seeing devastation like I’ve been seeing down there and Tuscaloosa (Ala.),” said Banks.

By Nick Nelson

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