MADISON (WKOW) -- As WKOW's Meteorologists can tell you, severe weather can hit at any time. That's why we track storms. The key is being prepared. One man knows that first hand, and volunteers his time, to help make sure you stay safe. Elishah Oesch introduces you to Dale Bernstein, June's Jefferson Award winner.
Dale Bernstein says, "we look at satellite imagery, radar imagery, we look at live time and we look at modeling." Dale Bernstein is talking about his life's passion: the weather, and helping people stay safe. He's the president and C-E-O of the non-profit Midwest Severe Storm Tracking and Response Center. They follow weather events, and report back vital information to the National Weather Service.
Dale says, "we are the precursor to the storm." In a nutshell, when severe weather hits, Dale and volunteers from the Midwest Organization go out on the ground level to relay information on the situation. Dale says, "recently it was the Stoughton Tornado. I was about 75 yards away from the vortex." That might seem risky, but Dale does it safely, so the risk is decreased for you.
Steve Fitzsimmons says, "in the Stoughton case, he went out and helped direct traffic so people wouldn't drive into the path of the tornado." Steve has been volunteering with Dale for years. He says, Dale and the Midwest Organization play a vital role in our community. He says, "without organizations like Midwest, we don't have the ground troops going out to the National Weather Service." In fact, what Dale and Midwest do matters enough that at times WKOW partners with them.
Dale says, "we may confirm with other teams in other organizations in other areas. We ask, what are you doing, do you need any help with radar ops?" Dale works out of the basement of his home at the Midwest Monona base. Dale spends his time looking at maps and computers all data. It's a 365 day a year job and its all to protect you.
Dale says,"weather events are just gonna happen. You can not circumvent mother nature." But, as Dale espouses to everyone he meets, you can be prepared. He says, "preparedness is key. Have a family plan." A plan that includes a severe weather alert radio, and a safe place for your family to go. However, Dale says, one thing you don't have to worry about is his commitment to the organization.
Dale says, "I just turned 62, so I think I have another 30 years in me." Steve agrees saying, "the community needs people like Dale who help the community become safer."
To help develop a family plan in the event of sever weather you can go to the Dane County Emergency Management's website http://www.countyofdane.com/emergency
For more information on Midwest SSTRC you can go to http://www.midwestsstrc.org