October 2, 2007

Lawrence County Next?

On a late winter day earlier this year, the temperature topped 83 degrees at Rapid City airport. It was just March 20th, but that temperature was high enough to land a place in the record books as the warmest March 20th on record – and the warmest day in March since records have been kept.

Now that might sound like a harbinger of “global warming.” As readers of this blog well know, I believe there is global warming, but I doubt we humans have as much impact on it as we might think. And it borders upon the ridiculous to think that we can have much impact on changing the climate.

Nonetheless, as it has done for millennia, climate change will provide us with an endless variety of irregular hot, cold, wet and dry weather. Unfortunately, if the past is any indication, severe weather will take a heavy toll.

While efforts to alter climate change may be laughable, there are many things we can and should do to be user-friendly to Mother Earth. And there are some common sense things we should be doing in anticipation of severe weather that dogs South Dakota constantly, ranging from drought and flooding to severe thunderstorms and blizzards.

StormReady is a nationwide preparedness program created to help community leaders and emergency managers strengthen local safety programs by providing guidelines embraced by the National Weather Service.

It’s encouraging to see our good friends in Butte County take steps to have their county designated a StormReady Community by the National Weather Service. Among other things, that means they have established a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center; they have multiple methods to receive severe weather forecasts and warnings and to alert the public; the have the capability to monitor local weather conditions; and they train severe weather spotters and hold emergency exercises.

Congratulations to Butte County Emergency Management Director Misty Peck and the other Butte county folks who’ve put together the resources to earn this designation. It’s no guarantee for avoiding disaster, but it reflects good planning and meaningful efforts to mitigate the impact of severe storms.

They’ve installed sirens to warn boaters and campers of storms approaching the Belle Fourche Reservoir, developed a safety plan for the Black Hills Roundup Grounds, and have nurtured a high level of participation in the Skywarn spotter program of the National Weather Service. I’m proud that many of my fellow amateur radio operators are active Skywarn spotters.

On Tuesday, October 2, 2007, Susan Sanders (left) and Dave Montgomery (right) from the Rapid City office of the National Weather Service delivered to the courthouse in Belle Fourche the official designation of Butte County as a StormReady County. Emergency Management Director Misty Peck (center) receives the designation.

We hope other Black Hills counties won’t be far behind.

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