Nebraska Conducts Statewide Tornado Drill As Part Of Severe Weather Awareness Week.

   This is Severe Weather Awareness week in Nebraska and this morning was the annual statewide tornado drill, but it was done much differently than in past years – including starting an hour later at 10:00 MT.

     The drill wasn’t accompanied by the traditional Test Tornado Watch or Warning that triggers the EAS systems at broadcast stations, but was instead triggered by a special version of the weekly test over NOAA Weather Radio with a special tornado drill script.

      Brian Smith, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Valley, says the change was to avoid public confusion and any possibility of the inadvertent release of an active warning without language making it clear it’s just a test. 

      Smith also says the test affects only a small part of the warning system because wireless emergency alerts to cell phones, most third-party vendor mobile apps, the vast majority of siren systems, and some media EAS receivers don’t activate for them anyway.

        Even with the changes, the warning sirens in Chadron, Crawford, and Harrison were activated using the 3-minute steady tone reserved for tornadoes. Chadron 911 Supervisor Gale Kitchell says all the sirens worked perfectly and for the full time.

      Kitchell says the drill gives agencies and communities around the state a chance to test their systems and make sure everything’s working after the winer.

       Today’s drill in this area showed the wisdom of that. Kitchell had planned to send out a test warning on the Code Red phone alert system, only to discover that when Police Chief Tim Lordino left last month, his name was taken off the authorization list along with Lordino’s.

        Kitchell says the glitch has been corrected, but not until it was too late to send a mock warning as part of the statewide drill. Chadron State College did, on its own, send out a phone alert over its system. 

       Kitchell didn’t know that, but was happy to hear about because Severe Weather Awareness Week is a great time for schools, businesses, individuals, and others to review their response plans for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, flash floods, and other severe weather.