Weather radio station is a welcome addition to the region

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 2, 2001

In a small town in my native Pennsylvania today, a groundhog named Phil will be prodded from his warm terra firma to predict the future six weeks of weather.

Friday, February 02, 2001

In a small town in my native Pennsylvania today, a groundhog named Phil will be prodded from his warm terra firma to predict the future six weeks of weather. For many of us, it will be the talk of the day – whether we will endure a month and a half more of ice, snow and bitter cold or whether crocuses will start popping up soon.

Email newsletter signup

Maybe Phil’s technique works in Punxatawney, Pa. He’s been at it for a very long time.

But with all the technology that’s out there, weather forecasters can predict the weather for the next 24 hours, five days, 30 days or 90 days – all without groundhogs.

Today we don’t have to huddle over a hole in the ground to find out what’s in store for the weather. We can listen to the radio, watch TV, check the back page of the Austin Daily Herald or talk with friends and neighbors to find out what’s expected.

Something new came to the Austin area last month. While larger areas have access to dependable weather radio broadcasts, the Austin area was without adequate coverage. Thanks to a lot of prodding in Iowa by state officials, that state expects to have all of Iowa covered with weather radio transmitters by the end of this year.

Weather radio stations can transmit immediate weather warnings to alert residents to impending severe weather. They also can be used to let residents of a community know of emergency situations such as chemical spills that might require evacuation.

The folks at KIMT Channel 3 have their broadcast tower between St. Ansgar and Osage, Iowa. When the station’s management heard that the National Weather Service and the Iowa Emergency Management Division were looking for a site to hang the antenna and house the radio equipment, it graciously offered space on its tower for free. KIMT surely could have rented the space for thousands of dollars a year, but they realized how valuable this weather radio system would be for area residents.

Until now, Mower County residents with weather radios were required to find a good spot in their house to capture the signal from a Rochester transmitter. For many, it just didn’t work around here. Now with the new transmitter, which went on the air last month, most Mower County residents can easily hear weather radio broadcasts and alerts.

Weather radios with the proper alerting feature can be programmed to wake you in the middle of the night if there is an approaching tornado. They can let you know while you are watching TV that a severe thunderstorm is approaching. And while older weather radio alerting features might have alerted you to a weather emergency more distant – I know our older weather radio often went off for thunderstorms in western Wisconsin – the new technology allows county-specific warning.

For instance, if a storm is passing through Freeborn County, our new weather radio won’t alert us until the storm is threatening Mower County. That might allow us to sleep a little better on summer nights. Too often when distant alerts were sounding our weather radio, we’d turn it off so as not to be bothered. That’s not necessary with the new receivers. We won’t be awakened now unless Mower County is under a severe weather threat.

The new weather radio station in St. Ansgar is a welcome addition to the region. It could prove to be a life saver if residents purchase weather radios and heed the station’s warnings.

In conjunction with KIMT Channel 3, we’re giving away eight weather radios during this month. On Tuesday, two of our readers’ names will be announced during the 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts on Channel 3. A coupon appears on our weather page most days. Clip it out and send it in. You just might win a weather radio from us!