Severe Weather

Emergency Operations Plan for Clay County, Iowa


The purpose of this multi-hazard plan is to develop a procedure for warning RAGBRAI participants and local citizens of approaching severe weather or other danger, and to identify locations of safety where RAGBRAI participants may seek shelter and protection. Severe weather is the most likely event and will be stressed.


The Clay County Emergency Management Agency, in cooperation with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, Clay County Communications Center, Spencer Police and Fire Departments National Weather Service, and Department of Public Safety, will monitor weather conditions during the time RAGBRAI will be riding in Clay County. The public safety operations will make appropriate notifications of weather watches and warnings and any other dangerous situations if such conditions occur. If a critical incident should occur in the county, a public information officer will be appointed by the sheriff or his designee and all information pertaining to that event will be provided by that officer. If a critical incident should occur in the City of Spencer, a public information officer will be appointed by the mayor or his designee and all information pertaining to that event will be provided by that officer. The PIO’s contact number will be released by the appropriate agency.


A watch means that conditions are favorable for the formation of severe weather in a designated area. Preparations should be made to protect yourself and the persons around you.

A warning means that a severe thunderstorm or a tornado has been spotted in the area. Immediate evacuation to a place of safety is necessary.


1. The National Weather Service and the Clay County Communications Center will advise all personnel in the field of approaching severe weather in a timely manner.

2. Upon notification of approaching severe weather, the Clay County Communications Center will broadcast all watches and warnings over all public safety frequencies. Emergency shelters will then be unlocked and manned upon such notification.

3. If a severe thunderstorm warning or tornado warning is issued for Clay County, all Law Enforcement Agencies and RAGBRAI safety officials will be notified by a broadcast from the Clay County Communications Center. Law Enforcement officers will announce the warning to all RAGBRAI participants with the loudspeakers on their vehicles or outdoor warning devices. Riders will be notified to relocate to the nearest emergency shelter. If the National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning, the outdoor warning sirens will be activated by the Clay County Communications Center.

4. A listing of all shelters whether for thunderstorm or tornado in Spencer is included.

5. If any other dangerous situation develops such as a hazardous materials spill, biohazard threat or any other dangerous situation affecting riders or residents during the RAGBRAI event the Iowa Department of Public Safety will be informed of the nature of the emergency and all local law-enforcement and emergency personnel will be instructed as to the appropriate action.

Notification and Preparation:

The Sioux Falls office of the National Weather service issues storm watches and warnings for Clay County. The Clay County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) has notified the Sioux Falls office of the RAGBRAI event-taking place in Clay County July 23-24, 2017. The National Weather Service will give the Clay County EMA early notification of impending severe weather. Once early notification is received, local law enforcement, fire, EMS and other first responders will receive a notification page from the Clay County Communications Center. Watches and warnings will be broadcast over the NOAA All hazards radio frequency 162.525 and the local radio stations, as well as to subscribers of the Clay Alert/ Alert Iowa notification system.

Outdoor Warning System

The Clay County sirens sound for a Tornado Warning.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning:

1. The outdoor warning siren will be sounded for a steady 3 minute tone and repeated as necessary.

2. Law enforcement, fire departments and emergency medical personnel may use vehicle loudspeakers to notify bikers and campers in the camping area and the area to be used as a secondary camping site as well as other designated camping areas.

3. All persons will be instructed to move to the designated safe areas immediately for their own safety.

Tornado Warning:

1. The outdoor warning siren will be sounded for a steady 3 minute tone and repeated as necessary.

2. All persons will be instructed to move to shelters immediately for their own safety.

3. All persons will be asked to remain in designated shelters until receiving official notification that it is safe to leave the shelters.

4. The RAGBRAI Communications Committee will assist affected persons in taking or making emergency calls.


Assistance in emergency situations will be handled by the following:

1. Law Enforcement personnel with radios, sirens and loud speakers.

2. Fire Department personnel and vehicles with radios, sirens and loud speakers.

3. Clay County Emergency Management Personnel using radio equipment.

4. City Emergency Services personnel using radios, sirens, and loud speakers.

5. RAGBRAI Public Safety Committee personnel using radio equipment.

Storm spotters will be used from the local storm-spotter network including trained storm-spotting individuals, fire departments, emergency management, and law enforcement agencies. Safety and evacuation procedures as well as maps will be posted at campsites and information centers.

Should a specific emergency occur, the lead agency in the emergency would provide an official spokesperson.

Storm/Tornado Safety Areas Assignments:

**All shelters will be marked with a TORNADO SHELTER SIGN and will be unlocked.

Storm/Tornado Safety Areas in Clay County

City of Spencer:

Clay County Regional Event Center (Contact Jeremy Parsons 712-363-4725)

KICD Train Depot Building (Contact Jeremy Parsons)

Clay County Grandstands (Contact Jeremy parsons)

Spencer Family YMCA (Contact Nathan Prenzlow 402-278-0207)

Johnson Elementary School (Contact Terry Heman 712-584-5422)

Spencer Middle School (Contact Terry Heman)

Lincoln Elementary School (Contact Terry Heman)

First Aid Stations

Clay County Regional response trailer will act as our first aid station and will be located at the Clay County fairgrounds.

Spencer Hospital will operate a first aid station inside the Clay County Regional Event Center.

In an emergency situation the downtown businesses in the pass through towns have assured us they will open their doors to shelter as many people as they can accommodate, during regular business hours.

Dialing 712-262-2151 or [911 for Emergencies] reaches the main switchboard at the Clay County Communications Center in Clay County, which will be staffed at all times.

Evacuation Procedure

All persons who are within the Clay County fairgrounds will take shelter in the locations previously designated in this plan, which will be indicated by a Storm shelter Safety Area Sign placed on the building front.

People located outside of the Clay County fairgrounds should take shelter in the nearest designated Storm shelter.

Emergency Phone Listings

Clay County Commnication’s Center - 712-262-2151 (Spencer, Iowa)

Additional Information

Emergency Management, the Clay County Sheriff’s Department, the Clay County
County Communications Center, the Spencer Police Department and the Spencer Fire Department will maintain close contact with the National Weather Service by telephone, amateur radio voice links and state teletype. We will monitor our National Weather Service radar screens for the duration of this event in our county. Should the need arise for evacuation, Law Enforcement, Fire, and Emergency Management will be consulted.

All first responding agencies will maintain close contact during RAGBRAI. Our primary concern is the safety of our residents and guests during this event. If there are any questions or omitted items, the Clay County Multi-Hazard Plan will be implemented. As per Federal Guidelines, the National Incident Management System [NIMS] will be utilized for any Incidents that might occur in Clay County during RABGRAI’s travel through the community.