“Michigan Severe Weather Awareness Week” In West Michigan

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 photoGRAND RAPIDS, Mich– “Michigan Severe Weather Awareness Week” kicked off Sunday and  runs through April 13th.

It’s sponsored by The Michigan Committee for Severe Weather Awareness, a group of insurance, law enforcement and meteorology professionals.

Fox17 got a look inside the Grand Rapids National Weather Service Office Sunday to see what they’re doing to prepare for the months ahead.

Jared Maples, a meteorologist there says “everybody has their own little job, we do communicate of course but we get so busy in here where data is just flying in and reports are flying in, we want to get to those as fast we can.”

Prime time for Michigan severe weather starts in spring and extends into early summer and keeping our West Michigan safe during it, is a group effort.

“A lot of the sheriff’s office will have their police dispatched in case they see anything, the emergency managers are working closely with us for reports we might get in, so everyone is in one tight-knit group. It`s the news media, it’s the NWS, the emergency managers, the dispatchers.”

The goal for the week isn’t just to make you aware; it’s about reminding you to be prepared with an actual plan of action.

“Make sure you know where to go, what to do, how to contact your family members if you do get separated. Let`s say you have damage to your house, knowing where your fire extinguishers are, just having access to those tools to make sure you are the safest you can be in those situations.”

It may sound routine but experts say it’s something you can’t hear enough.

“The last couple of years we have a had a lag in severe weather. We were below average on tornadoes last year with only 6 in the entire state, where we average 15 in the entire state. So, just because we have a lower average of tornadoes doesn`t mean any independent event can’t be a big event, take the Dexter tornado that happened near Detroit last year” said Maples.

This year the National Weather Service along with FEMA and the FCC, is hoping your cell phone will help keep you informed. The idea is wherever you are, when severe weather hits you’ll get a “Wireless Emergency Alert” or W-E-A on your cell warning you of any dangers.

Maples said “while we have a severe weather week every year, this year it seems like a much broader effort to get the communication out there.”

To learn more about severe weather awareness week and what you can do to help prepare your family just head to http://www.mcswa.com.

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