Emergency Management

How to Prepare for an Emergency

Alert and Warning System

Emergency Operations Plan

Emergency Operations Center

Hazard Awareness (under construction)

 


Alert and Warning System

Disasters such as wildfires, tornadoes, or major chemical releases can occur with little or no warning. You may have only a short time to decide, on actions to take to avoid serious injury or death. Even though difficult to predict, precautions can be taken to minimize dangerous situations.

One of the most important things you can do is to be aware that a danger is present. Most of the injuries and deaths that occur during a disaster happen to people who are unaware or uninformed. For this reason, it is crucial that you understand the City of Hobbs’ warning system.

The City of Hobbs Warning System

The City of Hobbs warning system is much more than a system of Outdoor Sirens.  The sirens are important, but they are just one component of a much larger system. There is a great deal of communication and coordination taking place behind the scenes before the sirens are ever sounded. The City of Hobbs’ ability to provide warnings is a result of partnerships with the National Weather Service, local emergency response agencies, and major industries. It is also the result of dedicated Emergency Management and 911 Emergency Call Center staff as well as trained volunteer storm spotters and Ham Radio operators. These groups all work together to make up an integrated system of hazard prediction, detection, and warning dissemination. These all are vital components of our warning system.

The City of Hobbs takes an "all-hazards" approach to public warning. This means that we use the same decision-making structure and alerting methods, regardless of the disaster. Severe weather is our most common threat, but it is not the only one we face. A wildfire or major air-borne hazardous material release, for example, could cause a significant threat to public safety. Incidents of this type may necessitate activation of any one of a number of components of the system, including outdoor sirens.

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Severe Weather Watches and Warnings

Typically, the National Weather Service is responsible for issuing all severe weather alerts. The National Weather Service, when issuing severe weather alerts, uses the terms "Watch" and "Warning." Knowing the difference between a "Watch" and a "Warning" is very important.

When conditions are favorable for severe weather to develop, the National Weather Service will issue a "Watch." When severe weather watches are issued, you should be alert for changes in the weather and be prepared to act quickly.

National Weather Service meteorologists use information from weather radar as well as a network of trained spotters to issue severe weather warnings. A "Warning" means that severe weather is actually occurring or is imminent. For example, a Tornado Warning means that the National Weather Service's Doppler radar is detecting a storm that is capable of producing a tornado. Tornado Warnings are also issued if trained spotters or law enforcement officers have actually sighted a tornado or other specific indicators of a tornado. You should take immediate steps to protect yourself when a "Warning" of any type is issued.

When severe weather approaches, The City of Hobbs’ 911 Center and Emergency Management staff is in communication with storm spotters in the field and forecasters at the National Weather Service office in Midland, Texas.  When issued, severe weather "Watches" and "Warnings" are broadcast over the NOAA Weather Radio station serving Lea County and passed to local radio and television stations. The information is also relayed to The City of Hobbs public safety officials who are responsible for activating local warning systems.

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City of Hobbs ’ Warning System Choices . . . You Decide

The City of Hobbs uses a combination of methods for alerting the public when disaster threatens. We recognize that no one application can provide warning to all citizens. As a result, we take a systematic approach, understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each component. Some of these alerting methods, such as outdoor PA/Sirens, are owned and operated by the City of Hobbs . Others, such as NOAA Weather Radio or local broadcast media are not controlled by the City, but cooperate in broadcasting warning information. Only you can decide which of these methods of receiving warning information works best for you and your family. Here is a summary of the available options.

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Outdoor Public Address/Sirens

There are 21 outdoor warning PA/Sirens in the City of Hobbs ’ siren system.  The City is responsible for testing and warning activation of all of the sirens in the system. Audible test on the public address and siren tone are conducted on the first Wednesday of each month unless weather or other conditions would warrant cancellation. The primary activation point of the city sirens is in the 911 Emergency Call Center located at the Hobbs Police Department, with backup capabilities in the City Emergency Operations Center and handheld units. While tornado warnings are the most common cause for siren activation, the sirens should not be considered to be "tornado sirens." They are intended as an "all-hazards" alerting system and may be activated for any type of emergency situation. The sounding of the sirens does not necessarily mean that a Tornado Warning has been issued. In fact, it means only that an emergency event has occurred or is about to occur and you may need to take action to protect yourself. If you hear a siren or public address announcement, you should immediately seek additional information through local radio and television stations. Do not call 911 for information.  This can cause delayed responses to actual emergencies. In all cases, the siren warning signal is a three minute steady blast. There will be no all clear signal sounded on the siren system.

The PA/Sirens are designed to alert individuals who are outdoors. They are not intended to alert people who are in cars, homes, or other buildings. Hearing sirens or public address announcements indoors may have been possible in the past; however, this should no longer be expected. The noise level of electrical and electronic devices competes with outdoor sounds. Energy conservation practices and better insulation have effectively reduced the sound penetration into these areas. In addition many homes and businesses are air-conditioned. Very few buildings have open windows in the summer when it is hot and humid – the very time when severe weather is most likely to occur.

There are a number of factors that affect the range of the siren. First of these is sound output. Very simply, some sirens are designed to be louder than others. A louder siren will have a greater range.

Atmospheric conditions also affect siren range. Wind speed and direction, air stability, and relative humidity all affect the distance that the sound will travel. Your ability to hear the siren will change as these conditions change. It is very possible that from your location, in some cases you will be able to hear the siren, while in other cases, you won't.

Topography and background noise levels will also have an affect on your ability to hear the sirens. Hills, trees, and buildings can be barriers that block the sound. High background noise levels from highways or industrial areas can mask the sound of the siren. These conditions will effectively limit the warning range of the siren.

The warning sirens will operate in the event of a power loss, but can be disabled by a direct lightning strike or electronic malfunctions. Even with these limitations, sirens can be a very affective source of warning, if you are outdoors and within range of the siren or public address announcement.  You can click on the view a map link to see siren and lightning warning horn locations and coverage under ideal conditions.

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Radio Scanner

A radio scanner programmed to receive emergency broadcasts can be an option for receiving warning information. The following frequencies can be monitored for this purpose:

NOAA Weather Radio – Maljamar , NM

162.400 MHz

NOAA Weather Radio – Seminole, TX

162.425 MHz

Amateur Radio West Texas Connection Repeater "Skywarn" Network

146.780 MHz

 

By monitoring NOAA Weather Radio or Skywarn, you can receive weather alert messages the instant they are issued. Local alerts may not be broadcasted over all of these channels.  The West Texas Connection is used by trained weather spotters who are also licensed amateur radio operators.  They use this network to communicate with each other in the field and talk directly to the National Weather Service in Midland Texas.  This network is used by all spotters that are serviced by the National Weather Service Office in Midland, TX. You can also receive situation reports and other valuable information by monitoring local public safety radio channels, such as EMS , fire, and police on 800 MHz trunking scanners.

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NOAA Weather Radio

Citizens of the City of Hobbs can take advantage of the National Weather Service's 24-hour weather broadcast system. NOAA Weather Radio in Maljamar, NM broadcasts on a frequency of 162,400 MHz or Seminole, TX which broadcasts on 162.425 MHz. The National Weather Service broadcasts continuous weather information 24 hours per day. When conditions warrant, the Weather Service can interrupt programming to broadcast special weather statements and official severe weather "Watches" and "Warnings". In fact, local governments in Lea County rely heavily on information supplied by NOAA Weather Radio as a basis for mobilizing volunteer weather spotters and activating locally controlled components of the warning system.

We strongly encourage you to purchase a Weather Alert Radio so that you can receive warning information directly from the National Weather Service. The weather radio system is the most timely, most reliable, and most credible source of weather warning information currently available.

A weather alert radio is a small, desktop or portable radio that works a little bit like a pager. The radio is normally muted and quiet, but can be activated by a special code transmitted by the National Weather Service. Once activated, most weather radios will sound an alerting tone to get your attention and even wake you up if you are sleeping. You will then receive a message describing the situation, directly from the source of the warning.

By special arrangement, NOAA Weather Radio in Midland TX can broadcasts warnings for all types of hazards, both natural (such as severe weather) and man-made (such as an evacuation resulting from a toxic chemical release), making the weather radio a true, all-hazards warning device.

Weather radios are now available utilizing Specific Area Message Encoding or "SAME" technology. With SAME technology, the weather radio can be programmed to receive and display alerts and warnings that apply only to Lea County. With a SAME weather radio, you can avoid hearing warnings for areas that do not concern you.

Most weather radios are equipped with battery backup, enabling you to receive warning information even if the power is out. In addition, individuals with hearing impairment can also get these warnings by connecting a weather radio to other types of attention-getting devices such as strobe lights, pagers, bed-shakers, personal computers, and text printers.

Weather alert radios are available at local electronics stores as well as from a large number of sources on the Internet. Depending on features, a weather radio can cost anywhere from $20.00 to $65.00.

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Emergency Alert System

The Emergency Alert System (EAS), adopted in 1997 is the successor to the old Emergency Broadcast System (EBS). The Emergency Alert System is composed of AM, FM, and television broadcast stations as well as cable television, operating in cooperation with local authorities to provide uniform and consistent information in an emergency. Participation in the local Emergency Alert System is voluntary, however most local stations have agreed to broadcast local emergency alerts if requested:

Other local broadcasters can pick up the message from any of these sources and rebroadcast it at their discretion. You can recognize an EAS message from the distinctive tone that begins each broadcast. The announcer will also identify the broadcast as an activation of the Emergency Alert System.

In an emergency, you should stay tuned to participating EAS stations to receive emergency warnings and situation updates. In addition, commercial receivers are available to receive EAS warnings directly. The complexity of these devices varies, with some being simple monitors of one EAS source to other units that can be set to monitor multiple sources. A number of EAS monitors are designed to be connected to external alerting devices, electronic message boards, and building public address systems. Most EAS monitors are relatively expensive and are designed for commercial use.

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Broadcast Television and Radio

In addition to participating in the Emergency Alert System, broadcast television and radio stations are a vital component of our warning system. Cable interrupt can be used  to broadcast voice warning messages on US Cable channels in the Hobbs area and channel 15 is available to broadcast additional text messages issued by the Hobbs Police Department.  Local television and radio stations routinely broadcast official "Watches" and "Warnings" issued by the National Weather Service as well as forecasts and storm tracks developed by on-air meteorologists. Television, in particular, is an excellent source of emergency information since graphics such as radar displays and maps can be used to describe the event in detail.

Broadcast television and radio, while being an excellent source of information, have one major disadvantage as a means of receiving warning. Your radio or television has to be on and you have to be able to hear it or see it. If the TV or radio is not on or you are in another room, you will probably miss the warning. A normal TV or radio will not wake you up in the middle of the night to inform you that a tornado warning has been issued. For this reason, you should not rely on broadcast television or radio as your sole source of emergency warning.  Satellite radio and television are not a good source for local emergency warnings.

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Internet

The Internet offers a nearly inexhaustible source of information concerning storm warnings and severe weather forecasting. Please be aware that Internet sources of warning are not as dependable as the other systems referenced in this document. Information received from sources on the Internet is subject to delays and may not arrive soon enough to provide an adequate warning. In addition, your ability to receive information through the Internet requires the operation of numerous systems, some of which are completely beyond our control. The Internet should be considered as an additional source of information and should not be considered as the primary source of emergency warning for life-threatening events.

The private marketplace offers a wide variety of warning services, primarily weather-related on a fee-for-service basis.

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Warning System Recommendations

The warning system can only be effective if you understand the benefits and limitations of the alerting methods available. There are a great deal of warning devices and methods available to you. We recommend that you take advantage of as many of them as possible. No one warning method is perfect and no one warning method can be guaranteed never to fail. By relying on one single method, such as the sounding of the sirens or the receiving information solely from broadcast meteorologists, you risk missing a warning if that system fails. By taking a systematic approach and getting information from more than one source, you are much more likely to receive the warning, even if there is a failure in one of the components.

We strongly recommend that you consider the following:

  • Purchase a weather alert radio if you don't already have one.

  • Subscribe to a wireless email alerting system if you carry an alphanumeric pager, digital cellular phone or personal digital assistant.

  • Rely on the sirens only for outdoor warning.

  • Turn to broadcast radio or television for details and follow-up information.

  • Use your senses and seek shelter anytime hazardous weather approaches

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What's New

Quality of life master Plan

Click the link below to download the PDF.

Quality of Life Master Plan

 

Public Meetings

Click the link below to download the agenda:

City Commission Closed Meeting Agenda, October 2, 2014

Library Board Meeting Agenda, October 7, 2014

New Legal Notices

The Legal Notices page has been updated with new information.

Web Page Additions or Updates

Animal Adoption Center

Flood Hazard Awareness

Municipal Code

Documents Online

Business Services