The nearly 3 million annual visitors to Grand Teton National Park can feel more protected from severe weather and other natural and man-made hazards now that a set of rigorous warning criteria has been met to earn the distinction of being StormReady®, the first national park to be recognized as such.
Communications links to NOAA’s Riverton National Weather Service office and redundant warning systems will provide improved warning services at the park’s visitor centers and to National Park Service personnel. Getting warning information to park rangers and concessionaires is vital for improving the safety of visitors.
“StormReady® was designed for communities to be proactive in improving hazardous weather operations and communications," said Chris Jones, warning coordination meteorologist at NOAA’s Riverton forecast office. “Enhanced communication services are a requirement of participation in the StormReady® program. The park is now better equipped to communicate important hazard information to save lives and property, before and during the event. While not a town or city in the traditional sense, Grand Teton National Park is a destination spot for people worldwide. The leaders of the park’s emergency services are to be commended for recognizing the need to better protect such a diverse visitor group by meeting the StormReady® standards.”
"At Grand Teton National Park, we take seriously our role in providing a safe environment for both the local Jackson Hole community, and for the millions of people who visit the park each year. As a new StormReady agency, we intend to do all we can to alert local residents and park visitors to severe weather events, whenever the situation arises," said Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott. "Being the first national park to achieve StormReady® status is especially gratifying, and we hope to serve as an example for others to follow."
Jones and Kevin Lynott, meteorologist-in-charge of the National Weather Service office in Riverton, will present a recognition letter and special StormReady® signs to Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott and other park officials at a June 18 ceremony. The StormReady® recognition will be in effect for three years, after which Grand Teton will go through a renewal process.
To earn StormReady® designation, a community must:
· Establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center;
· Have redundant ways to receive weather forecasts and warnings and to alert the public;
· Create a system that monitors local weather conditions;
· Promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars;
· Develop a formal hazardous weather plan for training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.