Sure – let’s add one more topic to this blog!
As an admitted Weather Geek and a lakefront property owner, I have watched as boaters struggled to get safely to shore when caught in a gust front carrying gale-force winds. I also know that the conditions that tend to spawn tornadoes, (heat and humidity, to name a few); are also what tend to send people flocking to our beautiful lake. Our State Park has miles and miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails; and we have several rustic and RV campgrounds that are usually full.
We need a way to warn folks to seek shelter, when bad weather threatens.
Yes, our local TV and radio stations do a good job of putting out warnings. Many folks use Weather Radios; or receive alerts on their cell phones. Yankee Springs State Park is part of the National Weather Service’s Storm Ready program – they have a plan in place to alert campers and picnickers when severe weather threatens; and deal with the aftermath of a storm. These are all very good things; and I’m a firm believer that one should be aware of weather conditions while enjoying the outdoors; and when the skies look threatening, you should be monitoring the weather closely. Just in case….
However…. there’s a few problems with the above safety plans. People who are outdoors enjoying the day, are NOT watching TV. Weather Radio reception is poor in our area (my own state-of-the-art weather radio doesn’t receive a signal at all, since all the cell towers went up around us). In spite of all the cell towers, our cell service is pretty weak (I think the towers shoot over the top of us?). The Park Rangers have no way to reach folks out on the lake or riding/hiking the trails. People who are on the water, don’t tend to bring their electronic devices along. And doing some conservative math shows that a busy, hot weekend could have as many as 8 to 10-thousand people on or near our lake!!!
With all this in mind, the Gun Lake Protective Association Board of Directors has unanimously agreed to look into partnering with the State Park, and installing a Warning Siren. Ideally, it would be on the south end of the Day Use Area (aka Murphy’s Point), which is approximately dead-center for the entire lake. I’m calling it a Warning Siren, because it can be activated for impending winds over 70 mph, along with radar-indicated or visually-established tornadoes.
Most warning sirens have an audible range of about 1 mile; because ours is broadcasting over water, it will hopefully reach farther than that, depending on things like wind speed and direction, temperature, etc. It’s not a perfect fix, and personal responsibility is still foremost. It will be a minor nuisance because like all civil defense sirens, it will have to be tested monthly. They aren’t cheap – we could be looking at a system that costs between $20-25 thousand dollars. But if just ONE LIFE was spared due to being warned to head for shelter – isn’t it worth it?? And watch this: if we take the middle ground of $22,500.00 for an installed siren with battery backup, and divide it by the 1600 (+/-) properties around Gun Lake…. it works out to a mere $14 per property.
FOURTEEN DOLLARS for an extra layer of safety. That’s assuming that none of our governmental agencies, Foundations, Clubs, Groups, etc step up with a donation toward the cause. This is easy – we can make it happen.
This map, courtesy of MSU, shows that we live and play in Michigan’s “Tornado Alley”. We have been blessed with a few years of “friendly weather” lately – but let’s not get complacent.