For many years, Brockway native Terry Fustine has served as Emergency Management director for Snyder Township and is usually in attendance to the regular monthly meetings on the last Thursday of the month, unless this meeting is upstaged by a special holiday such as Thanksgiving. I came aboard as a township auditor over 30 years ago when the previous team of auditors resigned as a result of their relocation from residence in the township because of employment changes with the departure of the Brockway Glass corporate headquarters.

Terry Fustine was appointed to the position of EMA director around that same time with the task of creating a department to meet all the requirements to make the township eligible for government funding for any damages from storms or other emergencies. Terry has done a fine job of keeping the township prepared for anything that happens to come our way since then. He continues to coordinate all with federal and state programs; and Terry follows closely the work of Tracy Zents, Emergency Management director for Jefferson County.

At the recent township meeting on May 27, Terry Fustine spoke about the annual opening of tornado season in Pennsylvania with a message entitled “Tornado watch vs warning: What to do when you see (or hear) alert messages.” I thought it would be appropriate to address this subject for the general public in my column for June. So here is the information that he presents ...

“Tornado watches and tornado warnings have different purposes, and you should react to each differently, AccuWeather explains. A tornado watch is typically issued hours in advance by NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center (SPC). It means that conditions are ideal for a tornado to form. A watch will not necessarily result in severe weather, AccuWeather explains, “A watch is issued when conditions are favorable, for example, either for a severe thunderstorm or a tornado,” AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said. “It doesn’t mean severe weather is imminent.” If there is a watch in your area, you should keep an eye on weather alerts and be prepared to act. Make sure you know ahead of time what to do if a tornado hits.

“While a watch covers a broad region, a warning is issued by a local National Weather Service meteorologist for a smaller area. A warning means that either a tornado has been spotted or a radar has picked one up. If you are in an area with a tornado warning, it’s time to act immediately. Get to a safe space such as a storm shelter. If you don’t have one, the best option is usually in the basement or the middle of a building, away from windows, preferably in an area with reinforced walls.

On rare occasions during significant events such as a tornado outbreak near a heavily populated area, a tornado emergency might be issued. The difference between a warning and an emergency has to do with how widespread the damage could be. Just as with a tornado warning, those in the path of a tornado emergency should seek shelter and wait for authorities to say when it’s safe to come back out.

The Brockway Area and Snyder Township both have Weather Alert Sirens. These sirens are located at Fire Station 1, Brockway and at the Snyder Township Building, Route 28, Brockway. When a tornado or severe weather warning is received by the Brockway Volunteer Hose Co. or the Snyder Township Emergency Management Agency, they will get all of the information possible before activating the weather sirens. The 911 Center will provide them with the location of the tornado and severe weather and if it is going to impact our area.

The Snyder Township Weather siren tone when activated will go up to its peak and stay there for a time period of 2 minutes before coming back down. The Brockway Volunteer Hose Co. siren tone when activated will go up for an extended time period and back down and will do this for 5 minutes.

If a tornado warning is issued for the Brockway Area, both sirens will be activated at that time. The sirens can be activated by the Jefferson County 911 Center or locally by the Brockway Fire Department or Snyder Township Emergency Management. When you hear a Tornado Warning Siren: Seek shelter in your pre-designated safe zone immediately. (If driving) Park your car and go outside. ... Keep your radio, or TV tuned to a local station for updates.

The weather sirens at Brockway Station 1 and Snyder Township Building are tested monthly on the first Monday of that month at 7:15 p.m. (19:15 hours). Please listen on these Monday nights and get to know what the weather sirens sound like so that you will know what to do when the time comes.

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