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Winter blast coats area

OEM using new tool to share info

February 5, 2013
By Katie Kuba - Senior Staff Writer (kkuba@theintermountain.com) , The Inter-Mountain

Nixle is now up and running.

The Randolph County Office of Emergency Management's newest communications tool, Nixle, has been functional since Jan. 14, and the launch has gone smoothly, says OEM director Jim Wise.

The Nixle Community Information Services allows OEM officials and other public safety agencies across the nation to create and publish/send messages to subscribed residents via text message or email. Users may also log on to www.nixle.com, enter their zip code and read any messages applicable to the region in which they live.

Article Photos

The Inter-Mountain photo by Casey Houser
Abby Boggs finishes a sled ride down Davis & Elkins front campus Monday afternoon. She attended the impromptu riding event with other members of the Elkins Rivers of Living Water Ministries.

The messages pertain to weather advisories and/or warnings, boil water advisories and other area-relevant information.

If you're not signed up for the free service and wish to do so, visit the Randolph County OEM's Facebook page and click on the link to the Nixle widget (posted Jan. 11); then enter your email, cell phone number and zip code to subscribe. Residents may also sign up directly by visiting local.nixle.com/signup/widget/i/784/.

"The widget is on our Facebook site, but if someone isn't a Facebook user, they can have a friend or family member get on there and sign them up," Wise said. "If they want to get a text message, they can put their phone number in there; if they want to get an email, they can put their email address in there, and that's it."

One of the advantages of Nixle is that it's all-inclusive service and covers every zip code in Randolph County.

"We go by jurisdiction of the agency," John Frank, chief operating officer at Nixle, said Monday. "Our system basically looks at the polygon of the county, so if you were to sign up and put in any zip code that fell into that county, you would be receiving messages from the agency that covers that county."

Wise said he's received "no negative comments whatsoever" about the functionality of Nixle and noted that the OEM receives fewer phone calls because of it.

"People that I come across on the street say they're receiving (the messages), that they're getting them fine," Wise said. "Between the use of Nixle and social media on Facebook, it has helped tremendously as far as reaching the public with pertinent information."

For instance, Randolph County residents already subscribing to the Nixle service received a text message or email Monday morning notifying them that 3 to 8 more inches of the white stuff was on the way, per a winter weather advisory from the National Weather Service.

The advisory, which is less severe than a warning, is expected to last through noon today.

Wise said he doesn't foresee any major snags, aside from slick, snow-covered roads.

"Right now the roads are improving slowly but surely, but with this new snow, we could run into more travel complications than anything else," Wise said Monday. "Of course, we're always preparing for things that could happen, like sporadic power outages, but I don't think that's going to be a concern this time."

Exactly how much snowfall central West Virginia receives is dependent upon variation in elevation, said Joe Merchant, a meteorologist with the NWS in Charleston.

"You're going to see higher accumulations in the northern portions of counties (in central W.Va) and also in higher altitudes," Merchant said.

Temperatures will climb into the low to mid-30s, he said, so in some places, snow may mix with rain.

As the sun sets, temperatures will bottom out in the low to mid-20s.

On Wednesday and Thursday, residents can expect some "unsettled and scattered" light precipitation across the region; however, "there's no organized system on the horizon," Merchant said.

Contact Katie Kuba by email at kkuba@theintermountain.com.

 
 

 

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