Preparing for winter’s worst: NWS Amarillo gets hands-on emergency training ahead of season

Preparing for winter’s worst: NWS Amarillo gets hands-on emergency training ahead of season
The National Weather Service in Amarillo is getting their first-ever interactive training to prepare for the worst winter weather possible in the region.

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - In this scenario, an ice storm is brewing in the Texas Panhandle.

"This event produced approximately half-inch to an inch of ice a good part of the Texas Panhandle,” said Dr. Stephen Bieda, Science and Operations Manager at the National Weather Service Amarillo. “There were a lot of accidents that occurred across the region."

The National Weather Service in Amarillo is getting their first-ever interactive training to prepare for the worst winter weather possible in the region.

"We do have some new people here at the Weather Service office in Amarillo and last year, we had some new people but there wasn't a winter, really, last year, a few little events, but nothing like this,” said Mark Fox, Meteorologist-In-Charge at the National Weather Service Amarillo. “We thought this would be a good way to get everybody back in practice in a safe environment and we're knocking a little bit of rust off."

NWS is combining real-life experiences with mock phone calls, social media reports and radar readings to prepare for the worst-case scenario in order to keep you safe.

Preparing for winter's worst: NWS Amarillo gets hands-on emergency training ahead of season

Through real scenarios from a 2015 ice storm in the Panhandle, NWS leaders are pulling the strings from another room as workers deal with everything from road closures to power outages and more.

The drill is not only getting the National Weather Service involved, but the entire Panhandle as well. Crews from TXDOT, area emergency management teams, city officials, law enforcement and others got in on the training to see how they respond to a major weather event, while also giving the weather service a chance to work on multi-agency communications.

"Our emergency managers, TXDOT and Texas Department of Emergency Management respond to everything that happened this morning so it gives us all practice for an event like this,” said Dr. Bieda.

Fox says doing the mock storm drill now is perfect timing.

"The time to think about this stuff is well beforehand,” said Fox. “If you wait until the snow is falling, it's probably too late to have that plan. Always plan ahead and follow the weather."

It’s a good plan to have, no matter what conditions arise in the Panhandle.

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