North Wildwood’s Emergency Preparedness website
With weather being our number one threat it is important that we use the many resources that are at our fingertips on the Internet. If you can access this page then you have the ability to access the various other weather resources. Starting with the local forecast the first place to check the weather is the local National Weather Service office which is the Philadelphia / Mount Holly Office. Their website can be accessed by clicking on the fourth link on the left hand side of this page (http://ready.northwildwood.com). They use data obtain from a fixed weather station at the Cape May County Airport and then adjust it for each town. The North Wildwood weather page will show you the seven day extended forecast and the Dover Air Force Base enhanced weather radar. There are two important areas on the page that need to be checked – first the section labeled in Red – Hazardous Weather Conditions – here you will find the Hazardous Weather Outlook which is updated regularly for the next seven days. Click on it to find out what is predicted. You will also find the actual severe weather warnings which you can click on to get details on the specific storm. The other important area is the section marked – Additional Forecasts and Information – here you will find the Forecast Discussion which is an explanation of rationale behind the weather forecast. While the graphics are easy to understand remember to read the text forecasts as they will contain the localized information.
Now that you have a reliable source for a weather forecast you need to monitor the weather. First location to get weather data, as well as tide heights, is the North Wildwood weather station. The weather station is located at the boat ramp at 5th and the Bay. The data can be accessed by the website link located on the left hand side of this page. What every person that lives in a flood prone area of town should a every time we have tidal flooding conditions make several observations of water height in the vicinity of your home and immediately check the tide gauge on the North Wildwood Weather Station. Take note of the wind speed and direction as it will affect the tide height. Next time when you hear a tide height prediction you will have some kind of idea of what to expect. Other weather stations to check can be found on the Weather Underground Website link (left side of this page). This will open to a map of the United States with weather stations indicated by orange circles with a temperature on it and a black line indicating wind direction and speed. When you click on the dot a box will open with current data. If you click on the weather station ID another page will open and you will get current as well as history of weather data in graph form. This is where you can find when the rain started and at what rate it came down, etc. When you zoom in a area you will see more stations – In North Wildwood we have three personal weather stations we can look at.
To see what is happening outside North Wildwood has two public camera on the Northwildwood.com website. The first is the Surf Cam showing conditions on beach at Second Avenue it can be accessed at https://northwildwood.com/north-wildwood-surf-cam/ and the latest addition the Bay Flood Cam which shows the back bay at the 5th Avenue boat ramp. The cam can be accessed at https://northwildwood.com/north-wildwood-bay-cam/ The bay cam is useful in seeing the tide height in relation to the marshes and boat ramp to give you visually an idea of the tide height.
With these tools you can monitor the local weather and combined with your observations learn how it will affect your property and help you decide what course of action you need to take to prevent loss or damages.
One of the things we constantly mention in Emergency Management is to make it a habit to monitor the weather forecasts so that you can be prepared. If you stop to think about this you probably do this more often than you think. How many times have you changed a Doctor’s appointment because the weather forecast predicted rain or snow and you didn’t want to drive in the snow or rain, or you changed a fishing trip or other outside sport because of weather forecast, or you simply closed your windows before you went to bed because it was going to rain during the night. All these are taking to account the weather forecast and preparing to prevent damages or losses. In the spirit of self preparedness we at Emergency Management ask that you monitor the weather on the same basis as you check your email or check your Facebook or other social media accounts. Just a few minutes a day checking the weather at one of the many weather apps for your phone or following the links on the left hand side this page (http://ready.northwildwood.com) on your computer will keep you up to date. For those that want to learn more about weather – consider becoming a Skywarn weather Spotter. Cape May County has an active group please visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CapeMayCountySkywarn/ The training you receive as part of the Spotter Training is invaluable in understanding weather. Another way to learn about weather is to purchase one of the many books on meteorology or weather on Amazon or your favorite book vendor. After you learned more about weather then the next course is to find websites that provide you live and prediction data to review. The first one you should check is the NWS Daily Briefing (3rd link left hand side). The Daily Briefing is a website that has a link to everything you need to know about weather. If you find this page too much to start with then go to the basic National Weather Service local forecast (4th link left hand side) and read all the data especially the forecast discussions. The forecast discussions are often loaded with meteorological terms that you might have to look up but after a while you will have a better understanding of the weather forecast uncertainties. Once you have a better understanding of weather there are several websites that provide the forecast models and other information in one location. One such website is the Tropical Tidbits forecast model page https://www.tropicaltidbits.com/analysis/models/ another one that we came across that has a good visual page is Ventusky https://www.ventusky.com/ on this website as well as many that we suggest you may have to click buttons to change what is displayed or change time frames to see future predictions. Both are worthwhile to add to your list of weather sites. After last weeks California earthquakes how many followed the Earthquake link (9th link on left hand side) to learn more about the earthquake. The link takes you to https://earthquake.usgs.gov/. Lastly since summer is the season of wild fires this website is handy to better understand where the fires are and the extent of the fire damage the website is https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/. Never before in our history is so much information available at our fingertips to learn and be prepared. Search, Visit and Bookmark websites that you find so that you can go back frequently. When you take a moment to better understand our weather and surrounding you will be in a position to be Prepared for whatever the weather will bring us.
In just a few days on June 1st the Atlantic Hurricane Season starts and continues until November 30th. Several Weeks ago during National Hurricane Preparedness Week we featured daily tips on our Facebook Page. The tips are generally the same each year starting with Determine your Risk, and followed by Develop an Evacuation Plan, Assemble Disaster Supplies, Get an Insurance Checkup, Strengthen your Home, Help your Neighbors, and Complete a Written Plan. As many of you that follow the trends in Emergency Management you can see that there is an emphasis on self reliance, that is being prepared on the family level rather than wait until FEMA, local government or other emergency agency to arrive. The facts are there are not enough emergency equipment, first responding individuals, or shelters to care for everyone in a major disaster. When you consider that North Wildwood’s year round population is around 4,000 people and swells to cost to 70,000 people in the summer you can see the monumental task that it would be to assist everyone if most did not individually prepare for themselves. On our “ready’ website – http;//ready.northwildwood.com you will find links that are divided into two general categories first “Important Links” which are generally observation links, such as the current weather, etc. and the “Be Prepared” links which are generally links to different websites that help you prepare for specific types of events. Both are important and helpful. Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the links and the information they contain.
As you probably already know most of the issues that affect us are weather related. While Hurricanes have caused the most damage at one time we are seeing more and more severe weather affecting our area that cause damages in smaller increments which in the long run may approach the damages from a Hurricane. Severe weather comes in the form of thunderstorms, hail storms, straight line wind, etc. What can we do? the first thing is be aware of the weather. The National Weather Service puts out severe weather predictions well in advance – make it a point to check the weather regularly as part of your daily activities. Second – Have a way to get the weather updates – If you have a smart phone download the FEMA App or any weather App that sends alerts to your phone. What is nice with a smart phone you can set the App to read your location from the built in GPS and give you the alerts for where you are exactly at. If you don’t have a smart phone – get a inexpensive weather radio with SAME (Specific Area Message Encoding) Alerts. If you travel a lot get a portable weather radio that you take with you rather than a desk top model. Now a days with home computers and the Internet you have access to more information than ever before. You can monitor NWS Weather Doppler Radar live HERE or you can check the thousands of personal weather stations that are online HERE or you can watch live video transmitted by storm chasers of tornadoes they are looking at HERE or check what the tide is at various locations HERE or real time lightning strikes HERE. Some pages you might have to zoom in or change location but they are easy to navigate. These are only a few examples of what is available by spending a few minutes doing searches. Save the ones you like and bookmark them for future use and get into a habit of checking them often.
Code Red is the Emergency Communications Network that the City of North Wildwood uses to notify the residents of emergencies that are taking place in North Wildwood. It is used most frequently for flooding from rain and tidal flooding. In 2018 it was used 27 times for tidal flooding and 28 times for flooding from rain with an additional five storm specific messages. The system is geographic based in that you will receive messages based on your address. For example those people living on the East side of town probably only receive one or two messages a year while those on the West side of town, that is prone to flooding, will receive the most messages. The Code Red ECN is a web based system that utilizes messages created by the Office of Emergency Management. The Police and Fire Departments also have the ability to create and send messages. Most messages are sent by the Police Dispatch at the request of Emergency Management or the Police Shift supervisor. During emergencies the messages have to be put out quickly and to have consistency in wording the messages that you receive are pre-made as a Scenario, which is simply a message connected to a geographic audience. Currently there are six pre-made Scenarios (1) Initial Street flooding from Rain, (2) Street Flooding from Rain with flood siren sounded, (3) Initial tidal flooding, (4) tidal flooding with flood siren sounded (5) Tornado Siren Sounded, and (5) Snow Emergency route notice. Later we will explain more about these scenarios. Other uses for Code Red are for emergency warnings from Police and Fire. For example if there was a chemical or natural gas leak the fire department could notify all residents within, say 500 feet of the leak, to shelter in place and close all windows. If there was hostage or active shooter situation the police department could notify all the properties within, say 1000 feet of the incident to lock their doors and stay away from windows. Other uses could be evacuation notice, shelter openings, when to listen to 1640 AM for a longer message, where to get assistance, alternative phone numbers to call when the main number is down, etc. The Code Red ECN can send messages via several different platforms – the first is voice message as a phone call, the second is TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf), E-mail, Code Red Mobile App, Text and Facebook. All messages will be the same except Text which has to be reduced to 160 characters.
How do you sign up – All Verizon (hard line) and Comcast (hard line) phones are in the system and are updated on a regular basis automatically (usually monthly). You have the option to logon on to the Code Red ECN website and add your email address, other phone numbers (cell phone, other family members, out of town phone) and you have the option to sign up for text messages, TDD messages and severe weather warnings. Severe Weather Warnings is an additional service from Code Red ECN that the City of North Wildwood pays for and sends National Weather Service severe weather warnings via the Code Red ECN system. Currently they offer Tornado, Severe Thunderstorm and Flash Flood Warnings only. This is a free opt in service that you have to sign up for online. To visit the North Wildwood Code Red signup site go to http://ready.northwildwood.com and the Code Red link is on the left hand side at the top of the link list. We urge you to create a password when you log in so that you can go back and add or delete numbers and email addresses. If you forgot if you signed up or not – simply do it again as the Code Red system will cull out duplicates and only send one message for each different number. When you move out of the area but keep your home phone number the change will be caught in the next Comcast / Verizon update. However if you signed up your cell phones and email addresses you have to go in and delete them. If you did not create an account so you can go back and delete your number we have the ability to block calls to a number and ask you to call the emergency management number and leave a message with name and voice number or text number or email address you want off the list. Occasionally we have people that don’t want flood messages – we no ability to tell the system what messages go to what number – it is either all or none. In fact we have no ability to see what numbers are in the system. We ask those people that want their number to be blocked to reconsider as you may miss an important emergency call.
Now more about the pre-made scenarios –
The initial flooding from rain and flooding from rain with flood siren sounded messages go to this geographic area
The initial tidal flooding and tidal flooding with flood siren sounded messages go to this geographic area
The tornado warning message goes to the entire city
The snow emergency route message only goes to those people on New Jersey and Atlantic Avenues.
Lastly, the Cape May County Office of Emergency Management also has a contract with Code Red ECN to deliver emergency messages to residents of the County. The same Code Red ECN database that we use and you added your additional numbers to is used for their messages. This will be utilized during major events that are affecting multiple municipalities.
July 1, 2014
As we are already a month into the new hurricane season and our first tropical storm has been named it is time to check our emergency plans and preparation. We urge everyone to visit the links on the left hand side of this page. They are links listed under BE PREPARED. Preparation is not hard and while most preparation needs will be the same for everyone each person will have to come up with his or her own plan. By visiting the suggested websites and tailoring the information to your specific situation you can check your plans and ultimately will be better prepared.
Also today due to the many requests to be added to the flood notification list we have expanded the flood notification to all residents west of New York Avenue from Spruce to 26th Avenues. Phones in these areas will be called and a recorded message will played. There are two messages that can be sent one known as the initial call sent when it appears that flooding will take place and one sent when the siren has been sounded. These phone calls are sent via the CODE RED Community Alert System. Read below to how to add your cell or other phone numbers. REMEMBER this system is used city wide for other notifications so if you are not in the flood prone area you still should visit the CODE RED website and add your alternate phone numbers.
Currently the Code Red Community Alert System will dial every Verizon and Comcast Phone in North Wildwood. However with many people relying on Cellular phones the system will enable you to add phones to your address. Remember this system is based on North Wildwood addresses so when you sign up you need to attach your out of town phone to your North Wildwood address. Being addressed based the city will be using the system to alert those in flood prone areas of flood warnings, those on the snow emergency routes to move their cars and on occasion when there is a natural gas leak or police emergency a circular area around the incident will be notified. Those of you visiting this page can follow this link to get a head start on signing up your “other” phones (Click on the CODE RED LOGO)
On the Code Red website you will be asked if you want to add your email address or receive text messages. We have the ability to duplicate the contents of the voice message into an email and truncated text message. As this will only be used in an emergency why not add all your contact preferences and methods so you can keep informed. Also those with “smart” phones will have the capability to download the Code Red App.
At the North Wildwood Office of Emergency Management we feel our central job is to keep communications when the normal systems are failing. Therefore we don’t put one form of communication above another. At times some may seem simplistic in these times of technology however when normal systems fail we will fall back on them. That is why we depend on a fire siren, AM radio and telephone as basic methods of notification. We will be using North Wildwood’s AM1640 as the method of communication that can put the most information out. Please get your self a good AM radio. Remember when there are no emergencies AM 1640 broadcasts special event information – ever wondered what time the free concert starts and who is playing? it is on AM 1640; want to know what the start and end times of the festival in the entertainment district? it’s on AM 1640 as well as the upcoming events for the next several weeks.