I recently surveyed my friends on facebook and asked them what the subject of my next blog post should be. An overwhelming number suggested that I talk about the many recent improvements in severe weather technology. The also asked that I recap the various weather tools we make available at WBKO and how they can be used to keep everyone better prepared for severe weather. After listing everything we have to offer, it literally spans the alphabet! So, over the next few weeks, I will break this blog into segments so that you can fully take advantage of the full arsenal of products WBKO offers. That way, you’ll not only stay connected and informed, but you’ll be armed and ready the next time severe weather strikes.
A- All-hazards Weather Radios For almost five years now, WBKO has taken the lead – not only in South Central Kentucky, but in this region for getting as many of our viewers and school systems outfitted with programmable weather radios. To date, we’ve sold, programmed or distributed nearly 20,000 Midland WR-100 all-hazards weather radios across our area. Through our unique partnership with Houchens IGA to get these radios into the hands of the public and our continuing educational program, we were recognized by the National Weather Service in 2007 with the Mark Trail Award in Washington, DC for outstanding public service. Simply put, these weather radios are life savers. What makes these units so attractive is that they pretty much stay silent until danger is headed your way. The older model radios didn’t have sirens and came in little cubes that sat on your desk. More improved models added a warning tone but went off for any county within a 100 mile radius of the transmitter. Most people hated being awakened in the middle of the night for a storm that wasn’t even affecting them. Today, Midland Radio is the world-wide leader in weather radio technology that allows the user to program which county or counties (up to 25) they want. You only want to be warned for Warren County? It can be done. You want to add two or three more counties around you to be warned for? We can do that. And your radio will only sound the alert for the counties programmed into it. The rest of the time, it will stay as quiet as a church mouse. From time to time, we schedule in-store radio programming sessions at area Houchens and IGA stores across the area…but you can purchase one of these weather radios at any time at any Houchens, IGA or Jr. Food Store locations across South Central Kentucky. They’re only $29.99 plus the cost of 3-AA batteries. If you need it programmed, many of the store managers have been instructed how to do this and will do it for free. Or, you can stop by WBKO’s business office at 2727 Russellville Road in Bowling Green during regular business hours (Mon-Fri 8am-5pm) and we’ll be glad to get your radio programmed as you wish…it only takes a couple of minutes. Be watching for more weather radio programming sessions at forthcoming special events. In the meantime, don’t wait…if you don’t have a programmable all-hazards weather radio, get one now and let us program it so you’ll be prepared for severe storm season.
B- Border warning improvements- This is a critical change that stemmed from an important meeting Shane and I had with the National Weather Service national disaster survey team following the deadly tornado outbreak of February 5th and 6th of 2008. That night, Shane and I noticed that tornado warnings that started in a Tennessee county was not automatically extended into the Kentucky county that immediately bordered it to the north. That’s because all the Tennessee counties to the south of the Kentucky border are warned under the jurisdiction of the Nashville NWS office. In turn, jurisdiction for warning all Kentucky counties that border the Tennessee line in our area come out of the NWS office in Louisville. In other words, the warnings for each CWA (county warning area) stop at the border. But since we know tornadoes don’t recognize borders, we suggested both NWS offices better coordinate border warnings in these situations. For example, if a tornado warning is issued by the Nashville office for Macon County, Tennessee for a tornadic cell moving northeast, the Nashville office coordinates with the Louisville NWS office to also warn those parts of Allen and Monroe counties in Kentucky in the path of the storm. What makes this even better is for those who might be monitoring a clearer NOAA weather radio signal out of northern Tennessee, they’ll not only hear the Tennessee counties under the warning but also the Kentucky counties directly in the path. In turn, all NOAA radio sites in Southern Kentucky will now broadcast those Tennessee border counties which may also be included in a warning situation. We thank both the Louisville and Nashville NWS offices for working out this potentially life-saving coordination between their offices and we were happy to play a small part in helping expedite this change.
D- Doppler Network- For the past 10 years, we’ve brought you the power of First Alert LIVE Doppler radar. In more recent years, we’ve added the strength of three more Doppler radar sites to aid in the tracking of severe storms in even greater detail. The First Alert Digital Doppler Network combines our live Doppler with the NWS NEXRAD Doppler sites from Paducah, Louisville and Nashville. We have the option, at any time to choose any of these radar sites – or combine all three into a composite view to give you a better angle on the storm. In addition, these sites provide us with critical storm identification, hail, high wind and tornadic signatures that flag us immediately when a storm reaches potentially life-threatening limits.
E- e-News Daily Weather e-mail- We have several thousand people signed up for this free service but since it was one of our earliest web offerings, it often gets overlooked. Our e-news service sends out a daily e-mail to your inbox with the latest news headlines along with the same written forecast and web links found on our main weather page at WBKO.com. This is a perfect solution for those who want a fast way to check the latest news and weather in an encapsulated form that goes directly to your e-mail inbox. Get signed up today…it’s free! Just click on the e-news tab located on our home page at WBKO.com.
F- First Alert LIVE Doppler Radar It’s still the only live, real-time Doppler radar located between Nashville and Louisville. In a time when some TV stations are going the way of calling up the equivalent of a Google map with outdated radar echoes thrown on top, WBKO still maintains its 8’ parabolic, digitally-enhanced Doppler weather radar…now entering its 10th year of operation! As I have stated many times, anyone can throw out the words “Local Radar” which really means they’ve centered a map over Bowling Green and South Central Kentucky but the data is not in real-time. Simply put, we have the only mechanical radar system based in South Central Kentucky…period. That means we’re always going to show the storm exactly where it is. When you watch the sweep line move around the screen, that is exactly where the antenna is sending the radar beam out to the storm and back in real-time…no delay. Lots of stations now have the capability of faking sweep lines to simulate a radar sweep which leads you to believe they own and operate an actual working Doppler radar. Our First Alert LIVE Doppler Radar tracks storms in real-time because weather happens in real-time. When seconds matter in a severe weather situation, having a live Doppler in your backyard makes all the difference in the world. Real-time gives you more time to take action!
Okay…we’re off to a great start with A through F. If at any time you have questions about any of our products and services, feel free to send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop me a note on my facebook or twitter page. Until next time…! CA