Orland Park Police Department: Be Aware & Prepared for Dangerous Weather

Orland Park Police Department: Be Aware & Prepared for Dangerous Weather
Posted on 06/15/2018

The Village of Orland Park utilizes several means to ensure public safety during severe weather. The Orland Park Police Department monitors the National Weather Service reports as well as information provided via its weather stations.

"The most important thing for people to do during bad weather is pay attention to the media on TV or the radio or invest in a weather radio," said Orland Park Police Chief Tim McCarthy.

"If it's warm outside, people may not have their windows open to hear the outdoor sirens. A weather radio can be programmed for our area letting people know about watches or warnings announced for Orland Park," the chief said.

A weather station is located on the roof of the Orland Park Police Station at 15100 South Ravinia Avenue. Five weather stations throughout the village enable the Orland Park Public Works Department to remotely monitor temperature, wind speed and direction, rainfall, humidity and barometer.

The Village of Orland Park maintains 13 outdoor warning sirens that are activated if a tornado warning has been issued for the Orland Park area. A three to five minute steady blast means that the National Weather Service or a trained weather spotter has identified a tornado or an aloft funnel cloud within five miles of the village.

Five of the village's larger parks are equipped with lightning prediction systems that measure electrostatic charges at ground level and in the atmosphere. When lightning is within a 10-15 mile radius of the area, alarm horns and strobe lights are activated. Lightning detection systems are located at the John Humphrey Sports Complex, Centennial Park, Schussler Park, Veterans Park and Cachey Park.

If the National Weather Service issues a severe weather warning for southern Cook County or northern Will County, weather spotters are sent to areas outside of the village limits to watch for tornadoes.

These areas outside of the village boundaries now include Route 6 and Parker Road, 159th Street and Parker Road and 143rd Street and Parker Road.

"All of our police officers are certified weather spotters who have completed training with the Will County Emergency Management Agency," said Deputy Police Chief Joe Mitchell. "The training includes identifying weather patterns and cloud conditions that could produce tornadoes," he said.

The National Weather Service will issue a tornado watch if weather conditions could produce tornadoes. This encourages residents to be aware of the weather, monitoring the local media for further information. Watches are issued by the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center for counties where tornadoes may occur. The watch area is typically large, covering numerous counties or even states.

"People can also set up alerts on their iPhones and monitor social media to know what's going on with the weather," Mitchell said. "The National Weather Service and all of the Chicago television stations use social media and issue updates and warnings whenever there is bad weather," he said.

A tornado warning means that a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar and there is imminent damage to life and property. Move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building and avoid windows. If in a mobile home, vehicle or outdoors, move to the closest substantial shelter and protect yourself from flying debris.

"The most important thing is to be aware. Pay attention if the sky looks threatening. Be aware of what the weather service is predicting for southwest Cook County or northeast Will County," the chief said. "You may not hear the outdoor sirens if you're driving or inside of your house. Pay attention and know what's happening with the weather," he said.

Warnings are issued by the National Weather Service local forecast office. Warnings typically encompass a smaller area like the size of a city or small county that may be impacted by a tornado identified by a forecaster on radar or by a trained weather spotter or law enforcement that is watching the storm.

Village of Orland Park Outdoor Warning Sirens Activated

  • The receipt of a tornado warning issued by the National Weather Service indicating that Orland Park IS IN THE DIRECT PATH of an oncoming tornado.
  • A trained weather spotter confirms a tornado or an aloft funnel cloud within five miles of the village
  • A trained weather spotter confirms severe winds causing structural damage within five miles of the village
  • Confirmed severe winds in excess of 70 miles per hour within the village

"We also want residents to be storm ready," McCarthy said. "We all need to think about what we need if we ever face what other Illinois communities have faced."

Residents are encouraged to keep an emergency kit handy and have a meeting area or one person to call if family members aren't together when a storm hits.

"The experts recommend choosing someone who lives out of state because local cell service may not be working," Mitchell said. "Choose a family member or friend that everyone should call after a storm to let them know that they're okay."

The chief added, "A number of government websites include lists of what families should put aside to have ready in the event of a disaster like a tornado or severe storm."

Further information about storm preparedness is available on the Federal Emergency Management Agency website at www.ready.gov.