With the severe storms rolling through Southern Maryland recently leaving behind debris and property damages, and last year's hurricane and earthquake, it goes without saying: Marylanders are no strangers to severe weather, and they know the importance of being prepared. But just as important as being prepared is knowing when something's headed our way.
NAS Pax River Emergency Management Director Jerome Ray said that tuning in to local radio and television stations is the best way to keep current on the approach of severe weather.
"The local news sources are the best sources to utilize in the area," he said.
He said some people monitor Southern Maryland-focused www.thebaynet.com.
During duty hours, Pax River personnel can turn the AtHoc alerting notification system on their workstations, emailwork or personaland even text messages. Ray said it all depends on how they set up their AtHoc. AtHoc is a contractor that provides network-based mass notifications of security and safety issues for the Department of Defense.
With the AtHoc system, people can select up to three avenues to be notified: email, text or phone message. AtHoc notifications will be sent only during duty hours and when something that affects the installation is coming. On weekends and after duty hours, Ray said, people should tune to their local stations or check the National Weather Service website at www.weather.gov.
"Usually, when we send a message out, it triggers them to monitor the weather themselves so they can plan what their course of action will be; 'Should I leave early, go home and batten down the hatches,'" he said.
Another notification system Emergency Management could use is Giant Voice, a system of loudspeakers located around Pax River and at Webster Outlying Field that can relay pre-recorded and live messages.
"You can hear the Giant Voice anywhere from one to two miles away from the speaker on a clear day," Ray said.
Even some areas outside of the Pax River and Webster fence lines can hear it too.
Both the Giant Voice and AtHoc system relay severe weather warnings as soon as the Emergency Management Department receives notification from either the meteorologists on base, the Fleet Weather Center in Norfolk or the Regional Operations Center at the Washington Navy Yard.
Warning and watch messages offer information on what type of weather to expect and the timeframe. A warning indicates the event will happen. A watch means conditions are favorable for the event to happen.
The NAS Pax River Public Affairs office also posts weather warnings on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/NASPaxRiver, and on the Pax River website at http://cnic.navy .mil/Patuxent/.
The Fleet and Family Support Center offers free Operation Prepare kits filled with information from both the Navy and the St. Mary's Department of Public Safety on man-made and natural disaster preparedness at their location, Bldg. 2090 on Bundy Road. Ready.gov also offers information on preparedness.
Personnel wanting to update their AtHoc notifications should contact Ray at Jerome.RayNavy.mil or Chief Damage Controlman Eric Wolf at Eric.Wolf Navy.mil.