Extreme weather conditions can bring potential threats to life and property. During these times, it’s imperative to stay in touch with emergency services…

Helpful Resources in Case of an Emergency

Emergency lights

By: William Milliot

William Milliot - TomKat RanchExtreme weather conditions can bring potential threats to life and property. During these times, it’s important to stay in touch with emergency services and on top of developing situations. Following are my top seven emergency information resources, I hope you find them helpful.

And wherever you live, consider using them as a starting point for your own list to share with friends, family, and neighbors.

  1. San Mateo County SMC Alert System is one of the first lines of emergency communication to our community. Sent via either text message or phone call (landlines as well as cell), it’s second only to the federal government’s radio or TV-based Emergency Alert System when it comes to immediacy.
  2. Cal Fire CZU Twitter account. Always on the alert, Cal Fire’s CZU first responders are the guardians of the Santa Cruz Mountains. They keep their Twitter followers up to date on emergencies affecting the area including evacuation notices, red flag warnings, flash-flood, and debris flow alerts as well as briefings during emergencies. They also have an active Facebook page. Other Cal Fire units also have Twitter accounts so search for the unit in your area.
  3. NOAA Fire Weather Planning Forecast for the Central Coast (zone 512) providing bare weather facts in a monospaced font. If you like your information with the look-and-feel of an old-fashioned telegraph, this site’s for you!  Also features a “DISCUSSION” of what to expect. NOAA’s National Weather Service offers an assortment of forecasts so dig into their site to find what you need to plan ahead.
  4. ALERTWildfire.org (live camera feeds). ALERTWildfire “is a consortium of University of Nevada, Reno, University of California San Diego, University of Oregon and provides fire cameras and tools to help firefighters and first responders” in California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington.  One of their cameras, sponsored by PG&E, is now on top of Lane Hill on TomKat Ranch to look south over the Santa Cruz mountains.
  5. MeteoBlue weather forecast for Pescadero. MeteoBlue is probably the best online weather service available. It’s especially handy for watching wind patterns and directions that may prove useful when planning evacuation routes.
  6. PurpleAir – air quality map for the Bay Area. Knowing air quality risk levels can mean the difference between staying indoors or venturing out—especially important for those suffering from respiratory conditions. PurpleAir has an easy-to-read, color-coded display to interpret risk levels.
  7. And finally, @Weather_West, the Twitter account of Daniel Swain, climate scientist at UCLA, features extreme weather warnings, definitions of scientific terms, expert opinions, and all-around meteorological updates for California.

BONUS! For the map-lovers out there, try CALTOPO to keep track of near real-time fire progress. Check the ‘Fire Activity’ option to add heat signature and infrared sensor map overlays from MODIS, VIIRS, GOES Live, etc. satellites. And, InciWeb – Provides the public with a single source of incident-related information. Also, two more smoke and air quality maps – AirNow and FireSmoke.ca (thanks Canada!).

Please keep in mind, these resources are for reference only. Use them for monitoring situations as they are developing. Do not rely on them for making life and death decisions. During emergencies, always heed the advice of official government broadcasts and notices—first and foremost—as well as any instructions from emergency personnel.

Remember, as the weather goes, keep on your toes. Stay safe!