Historically, the Emergency Management Office issued email notices to partners who wanted a "heads up" on upcoming significant weather. Our staff would take information from the National Weather Service in Northern Indiana, identify potential impacts to Berrien County, and disseminate it to partners using internal email lists. That "service" will now be provided through this news feed. All current partners will be notified via email on 2/11/2019 that service will migrate to this news feed system.
Captain Rockey Adams has issued the following statement on this change.
"In order to engage our storm spotters more efficiently, I feel that this is a positive step. It allows our stakeholders to choose if they want to view our webpage for info, receive a text (SMS) message , or receive an email.. Our goal has always been to raise awareness to potential weather threats so our partners can begin watching the weather and make decisions. This feed will allow us to reach a broader audience and open the information up to public view. The whole community should be our partner in storm spotting. Our end goal is to communicate with all of our spotters better."
"We want to be timely in getting information out, but sometimes we have competing duties. Sometimes stakeholders have rigid times in which they need to make decisions, such as closing for the day, and they need more detailed information. We aren't always able to provide that detailed information timely due to staffing levels, working hours, or technical limitations created by not being a meteorologist. The Emergency Management staff are not meteorologists, but we give it our best shot at identifying potential impacts of dangerous weather in Berrien County."
"Often, we adjust our working hours so that we are available to manage emergencies during the peak of an event. For example, we may not be available to help make preemptive "snow-day" closing decisions at 4AM because we need to be working during the peak of an event, such as 12PM - 8PM, to manage potential emergencies. This example could create a condition where our staff could exceed 18 working hours in some cases and we cannot allow that to happen. All of our partners are encouraged to become trained in "Storm Spotting", use the tools provided by the NWS (https://www.weather.gov/iwx/), determine what weather impacts may be a threat to their operations, and make a collaborative decision on how best to protect against those threats. Our service is only meant to prompt people to begin watching out for potential threats if they haven't been paying attention to that point."
"In our next steps, we need a way for our spotters to begin to provide us information in a more efficient way. Data sharing is a two way street and receiving information from spotters more efficiently will be our next step toward a more successful weather spotting program."
Current "Notify Me" users can update their subscription choices for our News Feeds at: http://www.bcsheriff.org/list.aspx . "Notify Me" is intended to provide routine and general information. B-Warn! is a sperate service that is intended to issue emergency alerts to the public.
Through B-WARN! automated advisory, watch, and warnings are issued to users. With B-Warn!, we do not need a duty officer to push the information out, and that eliminates delivery delays. Users can sign up for B-Warn! at http://www.bcsheriff.org/1283/B-WARN-Sign-Up-for-Alerts . B-Warn! allows you to choose the watch and warning types you are most interested in. For example, many people have told us that Marine Advisories for Lake Michigan happen a lot and after being alerted to these too many times, they change this setting in their profile to reduce the number of alerts. B-Warn! allows that level of customization.