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


Officials from NOAA’s National Weather Service today praised the emergency management team of Wicomico County, Md., for completing a set of rigorous criteria necessary to earn the distinction of being declared StormReady.

“Several Maryland communities have earned the StormReady designation, but Wicomico County is the first community on the Maryland Eastern Shore to be recognized as StormReady,” said Bill Sammler, warning coordination meteorologist of the National Weather Service forecast office in Wakefield, Va., which serves the Wicomico County/Salisbury area. “Through StormReady, Wicomico County and the city of Salisbury will be better prepared to help protect the lives and property of its citizens during severe weather events.”

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 local National Weather Service offices and state and local emergency managers. StormReady started in 1999 with seven communities in the Tulsa, Okla., area. There are now more than 960 StormReady communities in 48 states. Wicomico County is the fifth community served by the Wakefield forecast office to be declared StormReady.

During the Wicomico County Board of Supervisors meeting today, National Weather Service officials presented a StormReady recognition plaque and special StormReady signs to county emergency preparedness officials. 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 everyone 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 multiple ways 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,” added Sammler. “The mission of the National Weather Service is to reduce the loss of life and property from these storms, and StormReady helps us create better prepared communities throughout the country.”

“Just like communities, families need to be storm ready by having an action plan for severe weather. The StormReady program helps the National Weather Service and local government work together to educate Americans about what to do when severe weather strikes. Ultimately, it is each individual's responsibility to protect him or herself. Only you can save your own life. The best warnings in the world won't save you if you don't take appropriate action when severe weather threatens,” said Sammler.

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.

Editors Note: An image of the StormReady sign and more program information is available at

On the Web:


NOAA’s National Weather Service:

National Weather Service forecast office in Wakefield, Va.: