Last Updated on March 14, 2022 by Cass County Emergency Management Agency

Governor Holcomb proclaimed March 13-19, 2022 as Severe Weather Preparedness Week in Indiana. While this is an excellent annual opportunity to focus on preparedness, events of the past few weeks highlight that severe weather can hit anytime. The National Weather Service confirmed the first Indiana tornado of 2022 impacted Cass County at 2:05 a.m. on March 6.

Rocky Buffum, Director of the Cass County Emergency Management Agency, said this drives home the need for informed citizens and preparedness.

“There were no tornado watches or warnings issued. The radar did not show the presence of this hazard.”

Buffum indicated that confirmed sightings of funnel clouds or wall clouds by trained spotters is one of the criteria the National Weather Service office uses when issuing watches and warnings.

“Such observations also play a role in siren activation and can give residents additional time to seek shelter or move out of harms way.”

Cass County will join counterpart emergency management agencies from across the state, Cass County Central Dispatch, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, National Weather Service and other organizations in a statewide test of the alert system on March 15 at 10: 15 a.m. This will include Emergency Alert Messages thru media as well as activation of the county warning sirens.

Testing emergency warning systems is a critical local preparedness step. The Emergency Management Agency (EMA) will be working with other area public safety agency as well as residents to identify any warning sirens that do not activate as they should. For those sirens failing to activate, a contractor specializing in the installation and maintenance sirens has been retained to respond and get the issue corrected.

Buffum indicated this will be the first test of the sirens since he started. A few people have asked why they haven’t been tested earlier. Buffum indicated there are temperature considerations that need to be taken into account. If sirens are operated when the weather is below freezing, it can damage components and result in additional maintenance cost.

“If we had a confirmed sighting or a National Weather Service Warning, we would of course use the sirens for their built purpose. To just test for the sake of testing, operating the sirens below certain temperatures could cause more harm than good.”

The National Weather Service has additional virtual weather spotter training offerings this month (https://www.weather.gov/iwx/Spotter_Event_List) free to any who would like to attend. For those who wish to join as a group, an in person “watch party” will be held on March 24, 6-8pm at the EMA office. Interested persons for the in person offering can call 574-722-2484 or RSVP on the EMA Facebook page to ensure adequate seating is available.

Buffum encourages all residents to get a kit and make a plan. Consider a “go bag” with medications, important documents and basic emergency supplies that can be mobilized quickly. Buffum also encourages all to make emergency communications plans with work and family.

“How do you let each other know where you are when cellular service is disrupted? How do you let each other know you are ok or need assistance? These are important questions to consider before disaster strikes.”

SOURCE: News release from Cass County Emergency Management Agency