Downed trees, crushed cars, roofs ripped from houses, debris and destruction as far as the eye can see has been the scene from state to state across the country. Hundreds of people have died after tornadoes swept across several states in the U.S. in recent months. On June 1 tornadoes hit Massachusetts killing four people. Likewise, in May, deadly twisters touched down and claimed lives in several states including Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Alabama and Arkansas.
April saw an outbreak of tornadoes across the South and Midwest which numbered in the triple digits.
"In April, there was the greatest number of tornadoes in one month dating back to 1950 for the United States," said Greg Carbin, Warning Coordinator and Meteorologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.
While loss of life is the most catastrophic consequence of severe weather, personal injury, property damage, and disruptions to quality of life and everyday routine are also vestiges of a devastating storm.
"There have been 515 fatalities this year," Carbin said. "That is the highest number of fatalities on record in one year since 1953."
Like any geographical area, Naval District Washington (NDW) included, its assets and community are vulnerable to damage from storms boasting high winds, precipitation, and flooding.
Commanding officers, in collaboration with tenant activities and external supporting agencies, have severe weather plans in place which go into effect to mitigate when hazardous or destructive weather threatens in order to reduce the likelihood of damage to facilities and to ensure the safety of personnel.
"In early May, we initiated the NDW Region-wide annual destructive weather planning effort to review and update our plans, incorporating lessons learned," said Thompson Gerke, Senior Operations Planner for NDW.
"The focus of this planning and preparedness effort is at the installation level. The goal of the NDW Headquarters staff and supporting regional organizations such as FISC (Fleet and Industrial Supply Center-Norfolk Washington Detachment) Washington and NAVFAC-Washington is to set the installations up for success. Tenant activity involvement in this planning effort is also critical.”
Even with planning, Gerke said severe weather poses challenges for NDW.
"The toughest challenge NDW faces is balancing a prudent destructive weather preparedness posture against mission requirements and available manpower, fiscal, and other resources to provide an acceptable degree of protection against the potential effects/consequences of a storm."
NDW is utilizing some innovative technological mechanisms to keep those working and living on bases informed of weather related emergencies.
The Wide Area Alert Network (WAAN) mass notification system provides warnings to base populations in a severe weather or emergent security situation.
The AtHoc Self Service client, a software application on Navy/Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) computers, which appears as a purple globe icon in the users system tray, sends notification to NMCI users of key operational events or emergencies. As long as users are registered, alerts can be received on; work and home emails, work and home phones, and mobile phones via voice and text.
Giant Voice, which is a loudspeaker public address system, also enables security and emergency management personnel to provide necessary warnings that conditions outdoors have turned dangerous and informs personnel to seek safety indoors.
If you would like to be informed of changing operational conditions and emergencies at your base, or obtain more information on registering for phone, email or text alerts from the WAAN, please visit the NDW WAAN page at http://www.cnic.navy.mil/ NDW/About/WAAN/index.htm.
For additional information on how to plan and prepare for destructive weather, please visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) website at http://www.ready.gov .