UPDATED at noon: National Weather Service officials predict 3 to 5 inches of rainfall to hit the St. Louis region when Tropical Depression Isaac arrives locally, sometime between Friday evening to Saturday morning. In St. Louis, the major hazards expected due to storm conditions are flooding and road closures. The intent of today's collective preparation session was to reassure St. Louis County residents that plans, equipment and personnel are in place to handle what the region faces this weekend, said organizers. Command center had multiple, interactive weather maps projected in the background of the session.
station No. 4 team in Wildwood hosted an emergency preparation session at 11:30 a.m. Thursday for all St. Louis County first responder teams. The session involved National Weather Service experts.
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Agencies participating this morning include St. Louis County OEM, Region C IST, Metro West Fire Protection District, , Monarch Fire Protection District, Valley Park Fire Protection District, Maryland Heights Fire Protection District, West County EMS, Boles Fire Protection District, , Ellisville Police Department, Ballwin Police Department and .
11:04 a.m.: We're about to receive recommended tips for flood safety.
Metro West Battalion Chief John Bradley said he thinks the emergency teams are ready, but it all depends on how much rain St. Louis' receives in a short amount of time. "It could be as much as 5 inches, or it could be a steady soaking. The weather reports continue to change hour to hour."
11:43 a.m.: All agencies are reporting they are ready, prepared and waiting to see what happens with the actual storm track.
11:51 a.m.: The National Weather Service expert on the preparation call, Jim Kramper, said the speed with which the Isaac-related rainfall comes is key. He said they now have a better handle on Isaac with it being on land for a number of hours. He said the storm is moving slower than anticipated. They currently expect Isaac to reach center Southwest Missouri (Springfield area) by late Friday. He said the heaviest rainfall from tropical storms occurs in the central part of the track and to the east of the track, so monitoring the direction the storm takes once it hits Missouri may adjust plans.
"Having 5 inches of rainfall over 24 hours is not so bad. Having that same amount in 12 hours prompts substantial flooding in urban areas," said Kramper.
Fire chiefs participating in the call and meeting, such as Metro West's Bud Mantle, said their crews were examining their team's chain saws, refueling trucks, checking with nursing homes to ensure their generators are prepared, remapping low-water areas, encouraging staffs to bring extra clothes to the stations, checking if they are up-to-date on tetanus shots, and starting to communicate with Red Cross representatives.
One of the biggest concerns of police and rescue teams present is road closures. Capt. Kenneth Williams, of the county's Wildwood Precinct, and Capt. George Boswell, of the Ballwin Police Department, both indicated their officers would act as eyes on the streets during the storm and to update the Missouri Highway Department regarding discovered road conditions.
The county's helicopter schedule is being cleared so air-based teams are ready to assist as well.