NOAA05-R299-16
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jim Teet
10/19/05
NOAA News Releases 2005
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NOAA’S NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DECLARES SKAGIT COUNTY, WASH., STORMREADY

Officials from NOAA's National Weather Service today praised the Skagit County Department of Emergency Management for completing a set of rigorous warning criteria necessary to earn the distinction of being declared StormReady.

“Skagit County has a wide variety of weather and flood hazards, plus other natural hazards,” said Chris Hill, meteorologist-in-charge of the Seattle National Weather Service Forecast Office, which serves the county. “Through StormReady, Skagit County is better prepared to help protect the lives and property of its citizens during significant weather and flood events, such as placing weather radios in government offices and schools. With the addition of Skagit County, every county along the east side of Puget Sound, including the city of Seattle, is now recognized as StormReady.”

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 950 StormReady communities in 48 states.

National Weather Service officials conducted a StormReady ceremony during today’s Flood Awareness Week breakfast and included the presentation of special StormReady signs to county emergency management officials. The department serves all of Skagit County, including incorporated cities. The StormReady recognition remains in effect for three years and then the county will go through a renewal process.

“The StormReady program enhances our weather and flood warning preparedness within the county,” said Thomas Sheehan, director of Skagit County Department of Emergency Management. “We are excited to be recognized as StormReady and look forward to further cooperative efforts with the National Weather Service to raise local weather and flood preparedness programs in Skagit County.”

“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 multiple ways to receive severe weather warnings and forecasts and to alert the public;
  • create a system that monitors weather conditions locally;
  • promote public readiness through community outreach and education;
  • and develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.

Ted Buehner, warning coordination meteorologist with the Seattle weather forecast office noted, “Skagit County has one of the most effective flood fight teams and systems in the state of Washington. Officials should be commended not only for their flood fight plans and preparedness, but for all their efforts to better prepare their citizens with an all-hazards approach. In the wake of recent major natural disasters, it is more important than ever that everyone is well prepared.”

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 in Seattle: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/seattle