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Weather preparedness important
Volatile spring weather season on its way
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Siren testing to begin

The City of Great Bend will begin testing its outdoor severe weather warning sirens at 1:30 p.m. today as part of the statewide tornado/severe weather drill. Starting next week, the city will start sounding the siren at noon every Tuesday, unless actual severe weather is threatening.
City officials remind residents that these are intended as outdoor warnings only. If one is going to be indoors, they need to be tuned into some other form of weather warning device.

This is Severe Weather Awareness Week 2015, and to mark its importance to the safety of area residents, the Barton County Commission Monday morning approved a resolution denoting this observance locally.
The week is a cooperative effort of the National Weather Services and the Kansas Emergency Management Association. Barton County Emergency Management would like to remind everyone to be prepared for the spring severe weather season, said Emergency Manager Amy Miller.
“This is serious business,” Miller said. “Being prepared begins with you.”
With the winter weather of late, it may be difficult to think about thunderstorms, lightning and tornadoes, but the volatile spring weather season of March through June is just around the corner, she said. “Such is weather on the prairie.”
The proclamation encourages individuals, businesses and communities to plan and prepare for an emergency, Miller said. She urges folks to practice sheltering in place during the statewide tornado/severe weather drill today.
The drill is set for 1:30 p.m. today, but if severe weather is imminent for a community, the tornado drill will be cancelled for that community.
She also reminded the commission of the 2015 “Storm Fury on the Plains” sponsored by Barton County Emergency Management at 3 p.m. and again at 6:30 p.m. today at the Crest Theater. The presentation typically lasts 1½ to 2 hours. It is intended for storm spotters and for the general public.
The sessions are intended to train storm spotters, Miller said. However, she cautioned that the last thing safety and law enforcement personnel need are a swarms of sightseers when they are trying to do their jobs during bad weather.
Last Wednesday, Gov. Sam Brownback signed a proclamation designating March 2-6 as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Kansas. During the week, Kansans are urged to check their emergency kit supplies for their home, office and vehicle, and review their emergency plans to make sure they are prepared for whatever severe weather is thrown our way.
“Even though March through June typically brings severe storms, tornadoes, and flash floods, many people are still caught unprepared,” said Angee Morgan, Kansas Division of Emergency Management  deputy director. “Being prepared really doesn’t take a lot of time or a lot of money and while the odds are good you won’t need to use your emergency kit, it’s better to be prepared, just in case.”
According to the National Weather Service, 40 tornadoes hit the state in 2014, about 40 fewer than the 30-year average of 80 and the fewest since 1989. There were 27 tornado-related injuries reported, but no fatalities.
The first tornado was reported April 2; the last was on Dec. 14, a reminder that tornadoes can strike any time of the year. The most tornadoes in one day occurred May 11 when nine tornadoes were reported in the state.
Over the years, Miller said there have been tornadoes in every calendar month.
In addition the National Weather Service has declared March 4 as National Flood Awareness Day.
In other business Monday morning, the commission: 
• Approved a bid of $19,229 bid from Thomas Quality Homes to remodel the Barton County Clerk’s office. This includes building shelves on the north, south and east walls of the office. In addition, sound proofing and lighting will also be addressed, said County Clerk Donna Zimmerman.
• Approved the purchase of a Cannon Image Runner Advance C5235A from OPI for the Noxious Weeds Office. With a trade of the current copier, the cost comes to $8,375. The office’s current copier was purchased nine years ago and is experiencing maintenance issues.