NOAA 2003-R242
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NOAA News Releases 2003
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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS) has recognized the entire Huntsville Weather Forecast Office County Warning Area (CWA) – to be StormReady. In a special ceremony today, the NOAA Weather Service honored each of the 11 counties in the Huntsville warning area with official StormReady recognition. NOAA is an agency of the Department of Commerce.

The event also marks the 29th anniversary of the worst tornado outbreak in U.S. history. One hundred and forty eight tornadoes touched down in 13 states during April 3-4,1974, killing 330 people and injuring more than 5,000. At least eight of the tornadoes struck northern Alabama – where 86 people died and more than 900 were injured.

“Hopefully, we will never see that level of death and devastation again,” said Bill Proenza, director, National Weather Service, Southern Region. “Through StormReady, the National Weather Service works with communities to take a more pro-active approach to improving local hazardous weather operations, communicating warning information and enhancing public awareness. It is a nationwide NOAA Weather Service community preparedness program to help communities develop plans to prepare for local severe weather and flooding events.”

This voluntary program provides communities with clear-cut advice and a partnership with the local NWS office, state and local emergency managers and the media. StormReady began in Tulsa, Okla. (1999) as a local effort to educate residents about storm safety. With the addition of the 11 northern Alabama counties today – the program has expanded to more than 540 StormReady communities in 43 states.

StormReady recognition letters and special StormReady signs were presented today to the emergency management directors for Lauderdale, Limestone, Madison, Jackson, Colbert, Franklin, Lawrence, Morgan, Marshall, DeKalb and Cullman Counties.

Approximately 500 Americans lose their lives to severe weather and floods annually. On average, 10,000 thunderstorms, 2,500 floods, 1,000 tornadoes and 10 hurricanes impact the United States each year. Potentially deadly weather could impact every person in any area of the country.

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 public;
  • create a system that monitors local weather conditions;
  • promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars; and,
  • develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.

“The United States has the most active weather in the world and Alabama is one of our most active severe weather areas,” said Proenza. “The mission of the NOAA 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.”

“Just like communities, families also need to be storm ready by having an action plan for severe weather,” added John Gordon, meteorologist in charge of the Huntsville forecast office. “Through StormReady, we hope to educate everyone in our CWA about what to do when severe weather strikes – because it is ultimately each individual’s responsibility to protect himself or herself. The best warnings in the world can’t save people if they don’t take action when severe weather threatens.”

The NOAA National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. An agency of NOAA, the NOAAWeather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world.

Part of the Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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