Contact: Jim Teet
NOAA News Releases 2005
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Officials from NOAA's National Weather Service today praised Maricopa County, Ariz., for completing a set of rigorous warning criteria necessary to earn the distinction of being StormReady.

“StormReady encourages communities to take a new, proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations and public awareness," said Anton “Tony” Haffer, meteorologist-in-charge of the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in Phoenix, Ariz. “StormReady arms communities with improved communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property – before and during the event.”

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 local NWS offices and state and local emergency managers. StormReady started in 1999 with seven communities in the Tulsa, Okla., area. There are now more than 910 StormReady communities in 47 states.

At the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors meeting this morning, Haffer presented a recognition certificate to county officials. The StormReady recognition will be in effect for three years when the county will go through a recertification process.

As part of its effort to obtain StormReady status, the Maricopa County Department of Emergency Management has purchased 1,200 NOAA Weather Radio All Hazard receivers, one for every public school in the county, according to David Runyon, warning coordination meteorologist for WFO Phoenix. “The distribution of the radios, along with a county-wide policy letter to all public school administrators, will commence August 8th, and the county goal is to have this project completed in 30 days,” Runyon said.

“MCDEM and the National Weather Service have a long history serving those who live and visit Maricopa County, which includes the Phoenix metropolitan communities and the surrounding recreational region,” said Osman Aloyo, Maricopa County Department of Emergency Management director. “The mission to protect our most precious resource, the young, and those who work in our public schools will be greatly enhanced by placing NOAA Weather Radio receivers in every public school building. When the National Weather Service warns us of severe storms, extreme heat and desert floods, NOAA Weather Radio receivers will alarm the school administrators and give them time to take life-saving measures.”

“Every year, around 500 Americans lose their lives to severe weather and floods,” said retired Air Force Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, director of the 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 the 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 Haffer.

“Just like communities, families need to be storm ready by having an action plan for severe weather. Through StormReady, the National Weather Service plans to educate every American about what to do when severe weather strikes because it is ultimately each individual’s responsibility to protect himself or herself,” Haffer added.

Part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. The 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.

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