NOAA 03-R299-45
Contact: Marilu Trainor
NOAA News Releases 2003
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Officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service forecast office in Spokane, Wash., presented Chelan County and the cities of Cashmere, Chelan, Entiat, Leavenworth and Wenatchee plaques and signs designating them as “StormReady.” NOAA is part of the Department of Commerce.

During the presentation in the Chelan County Commissioners Chambers in Wenatchee today, representatives from NOAA commended the efforts of these communities to enhance their hazardous weather operations.

The StormReady program 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 lifesaving NOAA warnings as quickly as possible.

“The National Weather Service recognized Chelan County and these five communities for the wide variety of community disaster resistant projects that help prepare citizens for severe weather and flooding,“ said John Livingston, Meteorologist in Charge of the Weather Forecast Office in Spokane.

He noted how the StormReady program saved dozens of lives in Van Wert, Ohio. That 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 NOAA 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 Chelan County receives only about eight inches of rainfall annually, but has experienced severe thunderstorms with damaging winds and brief, but intense, rainfall causing rapid flooding of washes. In addition, runoff from mountain snow melt has produced years with significant river flooding. More than 67,000 people live in Chelan County and they, along with those who visit this area, will benefit from the efforts of these communities and the NWS in developing procedures to warn those who might be in harm’s way during severe weather events.

“The StormReady program is voluntary and provides communities with weather warning and preparedness advice from a partnership with the National Weather Service and emergency managers” said John Fleckenstein, Chelan County Emergency Manager. “The preparedness program is a grassroots approach to help communities develop plans to handle local severe weather threats from severe thunderstorms, winter weather or flash flooding.”

These tools include NOAA Weather Radio transmitters 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 NOAA warnings allowing the people in the community to take measures to protect themselves from harm before severe weather strikes.

“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,” Holmes said. “Residents should know what conditions bring on these weather events and 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 has certified 24 StormReady and TsunamiReady communities in Washington state and the Quinault Indian Nation in western Washington. Nationwide there are 622 StormReady communities in 46 states.

NOAA’s National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. NOAA National 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.

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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