Branson tragedy should be a reminder to watch for weather alerts

In the aftermath of the horrible tragedy at Table Rock Lake, media outlets quoted a number of people saying the storm came out of nowhere, the weather changed from not a cloud in the sky to gale-force winds in mere minutes.

While it's true the storm moved through the area rapidly, it's not true to say there was no warning.

The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the lake a half hour before those folks found themselves at death's door.

In this age of instant information and constant communication, it's inconceivable no one on that boat knew of the impending storm. It's irresponsible the boat captain and company officials failed to be aware of the potential for bad weather.

This tragedy should serve as a reminder Mother Nature has tremendous power at her disposal, and being aware of what might be coming over the horizon can mean the difference between life and death.

Whatever platform you use for your smartphone, there are many superb weather apps available. Many of them don't cost a dime and provide watch and warning alerts, as well as live radar.

In some areas, county and/or local governments provide an alert service. Code Red is one of the most popular. That system automatically calls the registered phone number whenever authorities issue an alert for the specified area. Check to see if your local officials have invested in such a service.

Of course, websites such as semissourian.com and others highlight weather alerts. This information can be especially useful when authorities issue a "watch," meaning conditions appear ripe for severe weather.

Note, too, potential weather events when traveling. It's fine to know the forecast for Cape Girardeau if you live in Cape Girardeau, but if you're traveling to St. Louis today, check out what the experts say about weather up that way.

There is no dearth of timely weather information available, but such information is worthless to those who don't access it. So, while the skies are clear, take a few moments to subscribe to alert services. Bookmark our website. Craft a weather information network to ensure you don't get caught unaware, no matter where you are on a given day.

Next, we can talk about a severe weather plan for the whole family.