Pictured above from left to right are Mark DeYoung, Vice-Chair - Allegan County Board of Commissioners; Daniel Cobb - Meteorologist in Charge, NWS Grand Rapids; Nathan Jeruzal - Meteorologist, NWS Grand Rapids; Scott Corbin - Allegan County Emergency Manager
Officials from NOAA's National Weather Service praised Emergency Management of Allegan County in Michigan on Thursday, January 13th, 2011, for completing a set of rigorous warning criteria necessary to earn the distinction of being a StormReady county.
“StormReady encourages communities to take a new, proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations and public awareness," said Jamie Bielinski, warning coordination meteorologist at NOAA’s weather forecast office in Grand Rapids, Mich. “StormReady arms communities with improved communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property – before and during the event.”
The nationwide community preparedness program uses a grassroots approach to help communities develop plans to handle local severe weather and flooding threats. The program is voluntary and provides communities with clear-cut advice from a partnership between local National Weather Service forecast offices and state and local emergency managers. StormReady started in 1999 with seven communities in the Tulsa, Okla., area. There are now more than 1,670 StormReady® communities across the country.
Daniel K. Cobb, Jr., meteorologist-in-charge of the Grand Rapids forecast office, presented a recognition letter and special StormReady signs to Allegan County officials at the January 13th ceremony at the Allegan County Board of Commissioners Meeting. The StormReady recognition will be in effect for three years, after which Allegan County will go through a renewal process.
“Every year, around 500 Americans lose their lives to severe weather and floods,” Cobb said. “More than 10,000 severe thunderstorms, 2,500 floods and 1,000 tornadoes affect the United States annually, and hurricanes are a threat to the Gulf and East coasts. Potentially deadly weather can affect every person in the country. That’s why NOAA's National Weather Service developed the StormReady program.”
To be recognized as StormReady, a community must:
· Establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center;
· Have more than one way to receive severe weather forecasts and warnings and to alert the
· Create a system that monitors local weather conditions;
· Promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars;
· Develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.
“The United States is the most severe weather prone region of the world. The mission of the National Weather Service is to reduce the loss of life and property from these storms, and StormReady will help us create better prepared communities throughout the country,” Bielinski said. “Just like communities, families need to be storm ready by having an action plan for severe weather. Through StormReady, the National Weather Service plans to educate everyone in the United States about what to do when severe weather strikes because it is ultimately each individual’s responsibility to protect him or herself.”
On the Web:
NOAA’s StormReady® program: http://www.stormready.noaa.gov