INDIANAPOLIS -- The state has created a standardized system to report severe weather and other hazardous conditions, replacing a hodgepodge of standards that varied from county to county.
All counties should begin using the new system immediately, said John Erickson, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, one of several agencies involved in devising the arrangement.
Officials saw the need for a uniform system after a blizzard last February.
"There were obviously issues with communication and consistency," he said. "It's very important everybody is on the same page."
Standards in many of the state's 92 counties were different, making it difficult for emergency personnel, the public and the news media to understand conditions throughout the state and, in some cases, between neighboring counties, said Greg Dhaene, director of the department's Response and Recovery Division.
The new system uses four levels for reporting conditions, ranging from caution to a declared emergency, which could limit travel to emergency personnel.
A statewide map showing different counties and their color-coded emergency levels will be posted online to allow people to see potential danger before traveling.
Even with the new system, the county emergency management director is in charge of determining which level of emergency is appropriate. The county commissioners then have the power to determine what types of restrictions are in place under each level of emergency.
Also involved in creating the system were members of the Emergency Management Alliance of Indiana Board, numerous county emergency management directors and the Indianapolis office of the National Weather Service.
See INDHS Press Release (PDF) December 14, 2007...State Unveils New Standardized Hazards Reporting System
Christmas Tornadoes?Tornadoes Touch Down
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Web Editor: Rich Hardwick
By: Grant Gilmore
The severe weather over the weekend left a path of destruction with at least eight confirmed tornadoes across the Southeast.
Here in Central Georgia, preliminary reports reveal that at least four tornadoes touched down with one tornado reaching EF2 strength with wind speeds in excess of 111 mph.
A warm moist airmass at the surface combined with strong upper level support to produce the outbreak of severe weather and tornadoes across the area Saturday night.
Tracking through our southeastern counties damage was left in the storms wake from Wilcox, to Treutlen county.
After a day of periodic showers across the region at 9:30 p.m. an EF1 Tornado touched down briefly just west of Owensboro in Wilcox County.
After ripping the roof off of an old dairy shed and destroying a cinder block building attached to the shed the tornado the tornado lifted back up off the ground.
However, damaging winds of 70 to 100 mph continued to cause damage across the southeast of the county.
Around 9:50 p.m. just southeast of Abbeville damaging winds near 70 mph ripped the roof off a house and blew a truck off the road and into a ditch.
The system then moved into Telfair and Dodge Counties where in Telfair numerous trees and power lines were downed as winds raced across the area near 80 mph.
Dodge County, however, saw an EF0 tornado touch down about 6 miles north of Helena near the intersection of Long Bridge Road and Bethel Church Road.
In the half mile long and 25 yard wide damage path a manufactured home was damaged along with numerous downed trees and power lines.
The complex of storms then continued to race towards the northeast at around 55 mph into Treutlen where at 10:41 p.m. an EF1 tornado touched down about a mile southeast of Lothair.
Causing mainly tree damage, the tornado moved to the northeast when by 10:42 strengthened into EF2 strength over the city of Lothair where it destroyed a fire department building on State Road 199.
Shortly after, the tornado weakened to EF1 strength while destroying a manufactured home and pushing another off of its foundation.
Moments later a weaker EF0 tornado touched down tearing a carport section off of a house and then threw it about 50 yards across the street.
Across Central Georgia there were no fatalities reported as a result of the severe weather, however, just south of our area in Turner County there was one fatality.
A semi-truck driving north on I-75 near mile marker 83 was tossed off the interstate by an EF1 tornado and thrown into an embankment.
Though the storm brought much destruction across areas of southeastern Central Georgia a lot of much needed rain also came as a result of the storm. More than three inches of rain fell in some places in Central Georgia which took the yearly deficit from over 9 inches to just over 7 inches at the Middle Georgia Regional Airport.