Z88.3 FM: Safe For The Little Ears®

Emergency Alert System

Emergency Alert System

Florida Operational Area 7The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is designed to alert the public of severe weather, technological or terrorism events that are forecasted or occurring.

Effective May 2nd, WPOZ / WMYZ / WHYZ / WDOZ and associated translators are no longer the EAS LP-1 source for Central Florida.  A decision to change the operational plan for EAS Area 7 was made by Pat Roberts, president of the Florida Association of Broadcasters and chairman of the State Emergency Communications Committee (SECC).  No one from Z88.3 had any say or input into this decision or the development of the new plan.  It was ordered by Mr. Roberts alone and put together by some appointed general managers and engineers to mirror the plans of the other eleven EAS areas in Florida, trumping the long standing and FCC recognized Local Emergency Communications Committee (LECC) that has been place for years in Central Florida.

Now to answer the big question… How do the changes affect Z88.3?  The short answer is there are no operational changes.  Our basic EAS operations on Z88.3 are unaffected by the newly modified plan.  With the exception of the Required Monthly Test (“RMT”), everything we did under the old EAS plan is still in place and will continue including providing you and your family with crucial Weather Warnings First®.

 

Why the Emergency Alert System (EAS) is a top priority at Z88.3

During the late evening hours of February 22nd and early morning hours of February 23rd, 1998, central Florida experienced one of the worst tornado outbreaks in the history of the state.  Forty two people lost their lives during the event and over 260 people were injured.

That night, Z88.3 provided continuous storm coverage, getting critical real-time tornado warning information out to the eight counties that the 88.3 signal touches.  The Emergency Alert System was a critical component that night.

As the second tornado-producing supercell of the night was approaching, the Orlando NOAA Weather Radio station was off the air for a period of time.  During that time, it appears that two tornado warnings and several Severe Weather Statements were not broadcast over the Orlando NOAA Weather Radio station.

That means that weather radios listening to the Orlando frequency did not alarm for two tornado warnings.  Many radio and cable stations were automated that night.  With no staff monitoring the weather, those stations that were relying on the Orlando NOAA Weather Radio station to get these critical warnings into their EAS equipment missed two tornado warnings.

But Z88.3 was fully staffed and broadcasting live during the severe weather event.  ALL the tornado warnings were transmitted over Z88.3 via the Emergency Alert System in real-time.  Z88.3 was one of the few stations to be sounding the warning as a tornado was approaching and tearing through Winter Garden.

In the wee-hours of Monday, February 23rd, 1998, Z88.3 received a call from a family in Kissimmee.  They were calling to thank the Z for their coverage of the severe weather.  They heard the tornado warning for their area on Z88.3, and against conventional safety advice, chose to load the family into a car and drive away to safety.

When they returned home they found that their house had been severely damaged.  They went on to say that if they had not heard the tornado warning on Z88.3, they would have remained at home and the consequences could have been tragic.  This is another reason why Z88.3’s involvement in the Emergency Alert System is so important.

Because of your faithful and generous financial support, Z88.3 has been able to be there with Weather Warnings First®, to help you keep your family safe.

Your giving makes it possible for Z88.3 to continue the ministry of severe weather coverage and participation in the Emergency Alert System.

Thank you for making it possible for the Z to be the voice of hope with emergency weather information for the millions of people who live and come to play in central Florida.