NOAA05-R299-45
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Contact: Marcie Katcher
12/8/05
NOAA News Releases 2005
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NOAA’S NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DECLARES WASHINGTON COUNTY, PA., STORMREADY

Washington County, Pa., was officially declared StormReady during a ceremony today where NOAA's National Weather Service praised the county emergency management team for completing a set of rigorous warning criteria necessary to earn the distinction.

“StormReady arms communities with improved communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property, before and during the event.” said Rich Kane, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service forecast office in Pittsburgh.

Stormready encourages communities to take a proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations and public awareness. The nationwide community preparedness program uses a grassroots approach to help communities 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 National Weather Service 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 980 StormReady communities in 48 states.

Theresa Rossi, meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh, presented a recognition letter and special StormReady signs to county officials at the Washington County commissioners meeting today. The StormReady recognition will be in effect for three years, at which time the county will go through a renewal process.

“Every year, around 500 Americans lose their lives to severe weather and floods,” said Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “More than 10,000 severe thunderstorms, 2,500 floods and 1,000 tornadoes impact the United States annually, and hurricanes are a threat to the Gulf and East Coasts. Potentially deadly weather can affect every person in the country. That’s why NOAA's National Weather Service developed the StormReady program.”

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;
  • 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 communities throughout the country,” said Rossi.

“Washington County has a history of significant severe weather which includes at least 10 tornadoes since 1880,” added Kane. “Among these were the devastating F4 tornado which occurred June 23, 1944, and an F2 tornado which occurred June 30, 1990. Since the early 1990s, the county has experienced over 70 floods, flash floods, and river floods. Washington County has had numerous river floods, including the historical flood event of Nov. 5, 1985, which produced a river crest at Charleroi, Pa., 14.7 feet above flood stage.”

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.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, 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. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners and nearly 60 countries to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes.

On the Web:

NOAA: http://www.noaa.gov

NOAA’s National Weather Service: http://www.nws.noaa.gov

StormReady sign and program information: http://www.stormready.noaa.gov

National Weather Service forecast office in Pittsburgh: http://www.erh.noaa.gov/er/pbz