NOAA 03-R259
Contact: Marilu Trainor
NOAA News Releases 2003
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Officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS) forecast office in Spokane, Wash., presented Whitman County and the cities of Pullman and Colfax with letters of recognition and signs designating the community as “StormReady.” The presentation took place in the Whitman County Commissioners Chambers in Colfax today.

StormReady is a voluntary program that gives communities the skills and education needed to survive severe weather—before and during the event. StormReady helps community leaders and emergency managers strengthen their local hazardous weather operations by ensuring that they have the tools needed to receive life-saving NWS warnings in the quickest time possible.

John Livingston, meteorologist in charge of the NWS office in Spokane, said, “The StormReady Program is a great example of federal, state and local governments working together to help prepare communities for severe weather and flood events.”

He noted how the StormReady program saved dozens of lives recently in Van Wert, Ohio. The community met StormReady certification requirements just 11 months before a Nov. 10, 2002, tornado devastated parts of the town. A Van Wert movie theater manager ushered 50 moviegoers to safety after hearing a NWS tornado warning over a special StormReady program emergency radio. The tornado destroyed the building, tossing cars into the front seats where kids and parents were moments before.

NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist, Ken Holmes, said Whitman County receives about 18 inches of rainfall annually and has a history of severe thunderstorms with damaging winds and brief, but intense, rainfall causing rapid flooding of washes.

“More than 40,000 people who live in Whitman County, along with those who visit this area, will benefit from the efforts of the city and the NWS to warn those who might be in harm’s way during severe weather events,” said Holmes.

“The StormReady program provides communities with weather warning and preparedness advice. We’ve formed a partnership with the National Weather Service, and county and city emergency managers,” said Fran Martin, Whitman County director of Emergency Management. “The preparedness and mitigation awareness programs help communities develop plans to handle local severe weather threats from severe thunderstorms, winter weather or flash flooding.”

These tools include a 24-Hour Warning Point and Emergency Operations Center, a NOAA Weather Radio transmitter to serve the communities with receivers in public buildings and available to school superintendents, hospitals and emergency managers. A local Emergency Alert System Plan is in place to get warning information to the public. Emergency managers ensure the quick reception and distribution of NWS warnings. This fast action will allow the people in the community to take measures to protect themselves from harm before severe weather strikes.

According to Holmes, “It is very important for everyone to understand that flooding, wildland 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. We encourage everyone to equip their homes, schools, businesses and public places with a weather radio. Our goal is that NOAA Weather Radios will become as common as smoke detectors.”

The NOAA National Weather Service has certified 21 StormReady and TsunamiReady communities in Washington state and the Quinault Indian Nation in western Washington. Nationwide there are 547 StormReady and seven TsunamiReady communities in 43 states.

The NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. The NWS 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. To Learn more about the NOAA National Weather Service please visit

The Commerce Department's 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 the nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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Links to NOAA National Weather Service offices with daily forecasts and severe weather warnings on for their area: