A Lasting Memory

There are two certainties when it comes to extreme weather: it can strike suddenly and leaves a memory. Recently, when talking with a client who was renewing our service, he remarked at how differently the last year had been. He became a client, as some often do, after severe weather struck.

It was a Sunday afternoon in late January of 2017. While there was a threat of possible severe weather in southern Alabama and Georgia, no one really expected what unfolded. The National Weather Service had raised the threat level by issuing a rare PDS (Potentially Dangerous Situation) Tornado Watch the day before. The intent of this is to communicate that widespread, long-lasting and very dangerous tornadoes are expected. On average, fewer than five of these PDS Tornado Watches are issued in any given year.

The day unfolded as it had been forecast, with three waves of super-cell tornadoes developing in southern Mississippi and then in Alabama and Georgia. All told in the span stretching from late Saturday January 21 through Sunday, January 22, seventy-eight tornadoes developed, claiming nearly two dozen lives. Two of those were rated EF3 with winds between 136 and 165 mph.

In the aftermath of this outbreak, I received a call from the safety director of a manufacturing plant in Albany, Georgia, one of the cities hardest hit by the tornadoes. He said that on the day of the outbreak, he:

  • received information too late
  • didn’t get accurate information about the storms
  • didn’t have a good way to notify his staff

This is a common concern from many who rely on traditional weather alerting methods. Why? Because many are county-based, which results in unnecessary business interruptions. Knowing that a threat is coming to your location is critical for making costly decisions to shelter staff and cease production.

Our client has experienced the value of having our more precise process over the past year. He now has a system that solves the problems stated above. He even reports several instances where he was able to keep the machines running when his old system would have advised shutting down. In some cases, he’s had to educate staff whose phones indicated they were under a warning. He explained the reason why he didn’t have to take action in those cases - he never heard from us because the warning didn’t include his plant.

Of course, its better to be proactive than reactive, but sometimes, you don’t know what you don’t know. As you assess your safety process, be sure that you have a way to instantly assess threats and communicate those risks quickly to key decision-makers. If your plan doesn’t currently do that, find out about getting a free trial of our method to compare it against what you have now.

Gene Norman is a Certified Broadcast Meteorologist who has helped businesses enhance their safety process as well as provided weather education to community and civic organizations. Learn more about how WeatherCall Enterprise helps businesses with their continuity plans here.