FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (Sept. 16, 2010) -A,A This month, Fort Leavenworth was re-certified as a StormReady community through the National Weather Service.

The certification means post has passed an on-site inspection by the National Weather Service and has emergency preparedness plans in place. Fort Leavenworth is the only military community in Kansas to hold the certification, and only one of four individual communities in the state. Leavenworth County is also a StormReady county.

John Hughes, plans specialist with the Directorate of Plans, Training and Mobilization, said the certification will be four years, but DPTM is constantly updating its weather safety plans.

"We work directly with the Leavenworth County operations center so we have a good communications network between Leavenworth County and the National Weather Service at Pleasant Hill (Mo.)," he said.

In Kansas, severe weather preparedness means safety plans for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, ice storms, snow storms, flash flooding and other severe weather. In addition to notices delivered through weather radios and electronic media, DPTM is able to notify offices on post about severe weather through e-mails, a computer pop-ups, the Plectron system, which are radio receivers in buildings, and an audio notification system.

Post road status is updated routinely online and is available to the general public on Fort Leavenworth's Garrison website. This site also informs the public when post is having a delayed entry or early release for nonessential personnel because of weather conditions.

Chuck Magaha, director of emergency management in Leavenworth County, said there are five sirens on post that sound in case of a tornado.

"Fort Leavenworth is covered way better than any other part of the county," Magaha said. "Warning sirens are designed to be heard outdoors. Those sirens are close together and they have a one-and-a-half mile radius. Within three miles, the decibels should be within 125, so that's pretty loud."

Magaha said when sirens sound, it is a signal for people to take cover and tune in to electronic media, either an all-hazard weather radio, broadcast news or the Internet, to find out more information. Magaha said all-hazard weather radios are encoded with specific area message coding, S.A.M.E., to receive local updates from the National Weather Service.

There is no "all clear" signal. A tornado warning typically goes into effect for 30 to 45 minutes, Magaha said, but families should continue to stay in a safe place in case another warning is issued and continue to monitor weather radios or news reports. The National Weather Service will send out a notification that the tornado warning has expired.

DPTM also participates in "spotter" training conducted by the National Weather Service.

Fort Leavenworth residents are encouraged to go to a basement, an interior room or one of the on-post public shelters - the Lewis and Clark Center at 100 Stimson Ave. or the old 40th Military Police Battalion headquarters at the corner of Bluntville and McPherson avenues. Hughes said in addition to these shelters, office buildings also have safety plans.

"All staffed buildings on post have either a tornado shelter or a plan to go to a shelter," he said.

Tornados are more common in Kansas during the spring and early summer, but can happen anytime. Severe winds can cause just as much damage as tornadoes, so Kansas residents need to stay informed about weather conditions.

Typical fall weather includes heavy rainfall, which can lead to flash flooding across roads and highways in Kansas and Missouri. It takes less than six inches of water to stall a vehicle or even cause the driver to lose control. Flooding on roadways can occur in dips or ditches near water, even on Grant Avenue near Merritt Lake.

Kansas and Missouri have information about road conditions during severe weather and during road construction on state department of transportation websites. The websites contain clickable maps that allow users to check the status of roads by zooming into a specific area. For Kansas road conditions, visit 511.ksdot .org. For Missouri, visit maps.modot.mo.gov/tim.

Schools also have severe weather plans in place, and some will cancel classes if the road conditions are dangerously icy or packed with snow. Each district has its own cancellation policy. Fort Leavenworth schools, for example, will often have school when others do not because its students travel on shorter routes through post. Its policy is online at www.usd207.com under the "Parent Info" and "Weather Policy." The website also lists radio and television stations where families can find information about school cancellations.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16