Contact: Marcie Katcher
NOAA News Releases 2005
NOAA Home Page
NOAA Public Affairs


Good planning and NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards played a role in saving the lives of 340 students, faculty and staff at Charles F. Johnson Elementary School in Endicott, N.Y., recently by allowing all to move to safety before a severe thunderstorm damaged the building.

Forecasters at the NOAA’s National Weather Service forecast office in Binghamton detected a severe thunderstorm June 6 on Doppler weather radar with winds estimated up to 70 mph. They issued a severe thunderstorm warning, which activated the school’s NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards alarm and provided enough time for the school to implement its safety plan and evacuate to designated “storm-safe” areas. The school had 22 minutes from the time of the warning to when the storm ripped the roof off of the kindergarten wing.

“Over 20 minutes of advanced warning allowed us to execute our severe weather safety plan, which in turn saved lives and prevented injuries,” said William Tomic, principal of Charles F. Johnson Elementary School. “Our school practices the severe weather safety plan at least twice per year, and this time the practice paid off.”

“This is what NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards is designed to do – save lives and property,” said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “We want every school in the nation equipped with a NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards. The other critical link is a sound plan so that the students and staff immediately understand what do to if a warning is issued. Every second counts in a situation like this.”

The NOAA Weather Radio All Hazard Network consists of more than 950 radio transmitters located throughout the United States and U.S. possessions and territories, providing the transmission of weather watches, warning and advisories as well as non-meteorological civil emergency messages to more than 97 percent of the population.

“While I have always been a big supporter of NOAA’s Weather Radio program, at no time has its importance been clearer than on June 6, when severe weather ripped through Charles F. Johnson Elementary,” said Congressman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), chair of the House Science Committee. “The prompt warning and emergency information principal Tomic received from his weather radio enabled him to immediately implement his safety plan. His quick action no doubt saved the lives of our most precious resources – our children. I hope that this serves as a lesson for others to get a NOAA Weather Radio, have a safety plan, practice the plan and take action when alerted to severe weather.”

Along with promoting the use of NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards, the Binghamton Weather Forecast Office also developed a strong working partnership with the local emergency management agency. Broome County Office of Emergency Services Director Mike Aswad notified the schools and other critical facilities in his county of the National Weather Service warning.

“National Weather Service warnings no doubt prevented injuries and potentially saved lives,” Aswad stated. “This was a fast moving, dangerous storm and there were no reported injuries or deaths in Broome County.”

NOAA's 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.

NOAA, 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 the nation’s coastal and marine resources.

On the Web:


NOAA National Weather Service:

NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards:

StormReady signage and program information: