Every year around 500 Americans lose their lives to severe weather. The numbers are startling: 10,000 thunderstorms, 2,500 floods, 1,000 tornadoes, and 10 hurricanes impact the U.S. each year. Because potentially deadly severe weather can impact every American the National Weather Service developed StormReady, a program to help guard against the ravages of Mother Nature.

"StormReady encourages communities to take a new proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations and public awareness," said retired Brig. Gen. Jack Kelly, director of NOAA's National Weather Service. The nationwide community preparedness program uses a grassroots approach to help communities develop plans to handle local severe weather threats.

The program is voluntary, and provides communities with clear-cut advice from a partnership with the local National Weather Service Office, state and local emergency managers, and the media.

The program was started by the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Tulsa, Oklahoma as a grassroots effort to educate residents about storm safety. Kelly said the National Weather Service's goal is to make 20 communities StormReady each year for the next five years.

"The local program works so well and holds such great promise for other communities, we think it will catch on across the country," Kelly said. "StormReady addresses the need for a new level of community awareness to protect life and property from extreme weather. Through vital partnerships, we will save lives with the StormReady program."

Albert Ashwood, director of the Oklahoma Department of Civil Emergency Management, encourages other communities to adopt StormReady. "The emergency management community appreciates the effort of the National Weather Service to provide information through NOAA Weather Radio to help save lives during severe weather. The StormReady program is another great example of the federal, state and local partnership that will help emergency managers have a more significant impact on their community," Ashwood said. "We're especially pleased that the idea we developed with local and federal partners in Oklahoma is now becoming available nationally for others to use to save lives."

Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Carroll Fisher said, "The StormReady program will save lives and protect property. I would encourage city leaders, throughout the nation, to participate in the StormReady program. It is my hope that participation in this program will lead to lower damage claims and, in turn, lower premiums for policyholders."

"The United States is the most severe weather prone region in the world," Kelly said. "The mission of the National Weather Service is to reduce loss of life and property from these storms. StormReady will help us create better prepared communities throughout the country"

"Now is the time for communities to prepare for severe weather," Kelly added.

Also, through StormReady, the National Weather Service plans to educate every American about what to do when severe weather strikes. "Only you can save your life. The best warnings in the world won't save you if you don't take action when severe weather threatens, said Kelly."

Information about StormReady is available online at: is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.