Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Tale of Two ZIP CODES and Dunwoody Storm Sirens

Did you know a storm was coming to Dunwoody?  When did you know, and how did you gather this information?  TV, radio, CodeRed, sirens from neighboring community, text message, Facebook, Twitter, phone app, phone call, home weather center, arthritis flare up, Al Gore, barometer?

The new text alerts and phone calls send information to you based on data you submit.  For most Dunwoody residents that is 30338. It seems as a majority of our storms come from the north, aka ZIP Code 30350.  A few Dunwoody residents live in the 30350, including the Dunwoody Talk HQ.  Not much different here in the '50' except we have City of Atlanta water instead of DeKalb, and our mail is sorted at a different post office so we have to use Atlanta or Sandy Springs as our official mailing address. Using ZIP 30350 as your 'warning' ZIP you may receive warnings sooner for storms approaching from the north.  But that was not the case on Thursday night.

Code Red sent a Tornado Warning to 30338 residents.  Was it because a warning was issued within 5 miles of this ZIP code?  According to an excellent local source, NOAA did not issue a tornado warning for 30338.  That means if we had sirens they would NOT have sounded on Thursday.  Was the non-issued NOAA tornado warning an error?  Should there have been a warning issued for 30338?  I'm not a meteorologist but looking at the tree damage around here it seems as perhaps we were as close to tornado as one can get.

If we had sirens, would they sound only from official word from NOAA?

Dunwoody not listed as one of the cities in the Peachtree City warning.  Do they know we are a city?

So the idea of storm sirens may soon be upon us.  Should the city invest in storm sirens and utilize the CodeRed phone system?  Perhaps a study on amount of sirens needed and annual cost.  Sandy Springs has sirens, as does Cobb, Roswell, and Decatur.  Any other time we (the city) needs to buy something, we always refer to one of these cities for validation.

According to CodeRed 30350 and 30338 were under a tornado warning on Thursday night.  I was at city hall during this time and knew of the event due to a CodeRed text and phone call.  A couple of other people in the audience knew as well, for the same reason.

On a similar topic, HERE is Sustainable Pattie (no relation to Peppermint Patty)


SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions said...

Your post is "Exhibit A" in why Dunwoody should be unified under one zip code. That's not enough of an argument for those who think District 3 is "not Dunwoody enough" and will bring down the home values of District 1 so City Council and staff are going to have to decide on some priorities.

I've become more persuaded that we do need storm sirens. Pat (Indiana native) and I know how to spot when a tornado is coming but many don't. I signed up for Code Red and did get text, email, and phone alerts - after the worst of the storm had passed. Not good.

I've had to explain to a lot of people that you can't put 100% reliance on high-tech communication. You have to back it up with low-tech for when your power goes out or there is some other failure.

Anonymous said...

On May 29th the city announced the Dunwoody Alert Network. "Residents and businesses can request severe weather warnings,"& " tomorrow’s launch of the Dunwoody Alert Network coincides with the City’s launch of the CodeRED emergency alert system and CodeRED Weather Warning system". The city police have steered us to the underperforming Chattcom, Smart911, their Facebook page, their Twitter account, their NIXLE account, their Interactive Defense page, their Youtube channel, their Police to Citizen portal, their smart phone applications, their email, and nobody remembers that plain old boring landline. Did I mention the prestige they feel while traveling the world and hosting international conferences outside of Dunwoody about all this great social media stuff. A mere citizen might get the idea the DPD is an elite agency, maybe even dispatching their officers using tweets or friend request but nothing, no tweet, no friend request, no D.A.N., no code red, not even a cop on a ladder with a traffic whistle. My notification came from my cell provider and I turned on the TV for near real time info. DPD is not a go to source for real time info in an emergency as they are simply too small. All this social media outreach has gone overboard. Citizens unfortunately now believe DPD will tweet or facebook an answer on whether a threat lurks. The weaknesses of DPD were exposed again.

Anonymous said...

YES!!! We need sirens. I was home with my kids on Thurday and had No Idea there was a tornado warning. We were listening to the news and checking There was NOTHING about the Dunwoody area. And after the storm on Friday morning, there was nothing in the news about the wide spread lack of power or major damage in Dunwoody. I heard a lot about Cobb and Cherokee- and then it seemed as if the rest of the metro area moved on. Even the NEWS folks did not know there was a story here. Based on the info. they had, the storm story was where the warnings had been.

themommy said...

I think there was an issue with the forecasting in this instance. as the storm was hitting Dunwoody said no precipitation for the next 6 hours for 30338.

A warning system, be it sirens or CodeRed, is only as good as the underlying data.

As the earlier Anon said, with the exception of one local station, which happens to have a reporter who lives here, TV stations and radio stations have barely mentioned DeKalb/Dunwoody.

Anonymous said...

Your assumption that weather warnings are based on zip code is wrong! If you would look at the text of the warnings and watches issued by the National Weather Service (NWS), you will see a series of numbers at the bottom of the alert. These are the geographic coordinates (Lat/Long) describing a polygon which encloses the area to be warned. It has NOTHING to do with zip codes.

When you register with CodeRed or other alerting software, you enter your street address. This is converted to the latitude and longitude of your home location (just like GPS) and if the warning or watch is issued where your specific address is inside the alerted polygon, you get the message.

That is all there is to it.

In fact, had your readers taken the low cost (<$50) precaution of having a properly programmed weather radio, they would have received the Severe Thunderstorm Watch for most of north Georgia (including Dunwoody) directly from NWS at 6:28 P.M. a full hour and 20 minutes before the storms hit here.

The Severe Thunderstorm Warning was sent out by NWS at 7:48 P.M. just as the storm hit our area. This warning came on the heels of the storm hitting Sandy Springs, containing winds of 80 MPH. I will leave the explanation of the timing of the warning messages for the NWS office in Peachtree City.

If we had sirens, when would they have been activated, and by whom? These things don't happen automatically, someone has to push the button.

Suffice to say that if you had listened to the earlier weather watch issued at 6:28 P.M. and understood that there was stormy weather all across our area, you probably wouldn't have been so surprised when it hit with such force an hour later.

Sirens in a modern urban area are mostly a waste of public money. Ask GEMA.

Anonymous said...

GEMA? How about FEMA? Another failed government group. "I'm from the government, I'm here to help" hahahahahahaha

I trust GEMA as much as FEMA, and that is very little.