Bad weather threat highlights Code Red -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Bad weather threat highlights Code Red

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Southwest Georgia could see severe weather this weekend, so expect strong winds and possibly tornadoes.

In Dougherty County it could be one of the last times many receive an advance warning of those storms over their phone lines via the Code Red System.

County leaders say it doesn't make good financial sense to keep the $37,000 system for only 5,500 residents signed up for the quickest alert.

Just after the first of the year people in this area along Stuart Avenue got the Code Red warning before severe weather blew through, bringing down utility lines, tree limbs and snapping off trees.

Now unless more people agree to accept the Code Red call you're going to get Monday night, the program will be dropped and so will phone advance warnings.

The National Weather Service predicts as many as two tornadoes in southwest Georgia this weekend.

"We're expecting possible severe weather all day Saturday," said EMA Deputy Director Jim Vaught. 

Emergency Management officials say they're prepared and if severe weather strikes the alerts that include weather sirens, weather radios, and the Code Red will be engaged, but for Code Red it could be the last time.

"We're going to explore any way possible to maintain that Code Red because given the weather situation we're expecting tonight or early in the morning it would be nice to have that advanced notice," said Dougherty County Commissioner Dr. Chuck Lingle. 

But county commissioners say unless more people sign up for the system's automated alert, the fastest alert through the National Weather Service, it's not cost effective to keep the $37,000 a year program.

"I think the more numbers we have the more economical it will become,"  Lingle said.

To make the sign up easier, the Emergency Management Agency has arranged for Code Red to call everyone in Albany and Dougherty County Monday night starting at 7:00.

"We encourage you to please listen to the announcement, follow the instructions, so you can be signed up for the program, said Vaught.

In the last year, Emergency officials have used the manual system seven times to alert residents. The automated system through the National Weather Service has been used four times. They say the automated system is a much quicker alert, especially when severe weather threatens and when time is of the essence.

A new deal being worked out between Code Red and the Dougherty County Commissioner could save the county nearly four thousand dollars a year for the alert system. Commissioners are expected to vote on the measure at their March ninth meeting.