NOAA 2002-R205
Contact: Marilu Trainor
NOAA News Releases 2002
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From Tornadoes to Floods, Sheridan County Prepared

Sheridan County, Wyo., is now the second location in the state to be recognized by the Storm Ready Program for its disaster preparedness and severe weather educational activities, announced the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Officials from the nearest NOAA National Weather Service office in Billings, Mont., presented officials from Sheridan County with a road side placard today designating the county as "Storm Ready."

"Through the use of the NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts, we can help save lives during severe weather," said Tom Walker, Sheridan County emergency management coordinator. "These programs are another great example of the federal, state and local agencies helping local emergency managers have a more significant impact on their community."

Meteorologist in Charge Keith Meier of the NOAA Weather Service Billings office presented the Storm Ready road signs and a letter of recognition to Walker during a ceremony held at the Sheridan County Court House in Sheridan.

"Storm Ready helps communities attain a new level of preparedness and mitigation awareness that leads to protection of life and property from extreme weather-related events," said Vickie Nadolski, director of the Western Region for NOAA Weather Service. "The Storm Ready program is working well and we hope it will continue to grow across the West."

The Storm Ready Program gives communities the skills and education needed to survive severe weather - before and during the event. Storm Ready helps community leaders and emergency managers strengthen their local hazardous weather operations by ensuring that they have the tools needed to receive life saving NOAA Weather Service Warnings in the quickest time possible.

In Sheridan County these tools include: a 24 Hour Warning Point and Emergency Operations Center, a NOAA Weather Radio transmitter, the Emergency Managers' Weather Information Network and a local Emergency Alert System Plan. Written plans for sirens on emergency vehicles were developed and plans include using amateur radio operators to report severe weather. During times of potential flooding, river gages on the Little and Big Goose Rivers will monitor river levels.

According to NOAA Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist Steve Kuhl, "Through the use of these tools, Sheridan County Emergency Management ensures the quick reception and distribution of our National Weather Service warnings. This fast action will allow the people in the community to take proactive measures to protect themselves from harm...before the severe weather strikes."

Sheridan County, including the incorporated cities of Sheridan, Ranchester, Dayton and Clearmont, were designated as "Storm Ready" on Feb. 12 by the Sheridan County, Wyo., and South Central/Southeastern Montana Storm Ready Advisory Board. The board is made up of Sheridan County Emergency Management, a representative from the state of Wyoming Emergency Management Agency, and NOAA Weather Service.

NOAA Weather Service statistics indicate nearly 470 tornadoes have killed two people, injured 81 and damaged numerous communities throughout Wyoming since 1950. Those tornadoes resulted in close to $41 million in property damage. Additionally, there have been more than 943 high wind and severe thunderstorm events documented across the state during this same time, which resulted in two deaths, 60 injuries and more than $3 million in property damage.

Kuhl said, "It is very important for everyone to understand that flooding, wild land fires and other weather-related events can be a threat to those who live, work or play in our area. Not only should you know what conditions bring on these weather events, but what to do when they occur."

"NOAA Weather Radios with alarms are the surest way to keep your family informed of hazardous weather," Kuhl explained. "We encourage everyone to equip their homes, schools, businesses and public places with this lifesaving device. NOAA Weather Radios should be as common as smoke detectors."

While 85 to 90 percent of Americans can receive NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts, only five to 10 percent of Americans own a NOAA Weather Radio. Across Wyoming, there are currently seven NOAA Weather Radio transmitters covering large population centers, with one located right in Sheridan.

County emergency management coordinator Walker said, "While Storm Ready is designed to prepare communities, the actions of an individual often mean the difference between life and death. Just like communities, families and individuals need to be ready by having an action plan for severe weather events."

NOAA National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. NOAA Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy.

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