NOAA 2004-R286
Contact: Greg Romano

NOAA News Releases 2004
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Officials from NOAA's National Weather Service recognized Bladen County, N.C., a leader by recognizing it as one of the agency's “StormReady” counties today. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“The StormReady program encourages counties to take a new, proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations and public awareness,” said Michael Caropolo, meteorologist-in-charge at the NWS Weather Forecast Office in Wilmington, N.C. “North Carolina and Bladen County have a long history of severe weather and it is the goal of StormReady to reduce the impact of severe weather in the state. The state experiences about a dozen weather-related fatalities per year and we are working hard to reduce that number.”

The nationwide community preparedness program uses a grassroots approach to help organizations such as counties, cities, military installations, universities or other community groups develop plans to handle local severe weather and flooding threats. The program is voluntary and provides communities with clear-cut advice from a partnership between the local NWS Weather Forecast Office and state and local emergency managers. StormReady started in 1999 with seven communities in the Tulsa, Okla., area. There are now more than 750 StormReady communities in 47 states.

At the regularly scheduled Bladen County commissioners meeting today, NWS officials presented a StormReady recognition letter and special StormReady signs to county officials. The StormReady recognition will be in effect until 2007 when the county will go through a recertification process.

“Every year, around 500 Americans lose their lives to severe weather and floods,” said retired Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, director of NOAA's National Weather Service. “More than 10,000 severe thunderstorms, 2,500 floods, 1,000 tornadoes, and 10 hurricanes impact the United States annually. Potentially deadly weather can impact every person in the country. That’s why the National Weather Service developed the ‘StormReady’ program.”

To be recognized as “StormReady,” a county must:

  • Establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center.
  • Have more than one way to receive severe weather warnings and forecasts and to alert the public.
  • Create a system that monitors weather conditions locally.
  • Promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars.
  • Develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.

“The United States is the most severe weather prone region of the world. The mission of the National Weather Service is to reduce the loss of life and property from these storms, and ‘StormReady’ will help us create better prepared counties throughout the country,” Caropolo said.

NOAA's National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. NOAA's 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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An image of the “StormReady“ sign and more program information is available online: