NOAA 2006-R204
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Marcie Katcher
2/1/06
NOAA News Releases 2006
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NOAA DECLARES VENANGO COUNTY, PA., STORMREADY

Officials from NOAA's National Weather Service praised the emergency management team of Venango County, Pa., today for completing a set of rigorous warning criteria necessary to earn the StormReady distinction.

“StormReady encourages communities to take a new, proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations and public awareness," said Rich Kane, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service forecast office in Pittsburgh, Pa. “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 National Weather Service forecast offices and state and local emergency managers. StormReady started in 1999 with seven communities in the Tulsa, Okla., area. There are now more than 900 StormReady communities in 49 states.

At the Venango County Commissioner’s meeting today, Theresa Rossi, meteorologist-in-charge of Pittsburgh’s National Weather Service forecast office presented a recognition letter and special StormReady signs to county officials. The StormReady recognition will be in effect for three years when the county will go through a renewal process.

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

Kane added, “Venango County has a history of significant severe weather which includes at least 10 tornadoes since 1950. Among these were three F4 tornadoes which occurred in the 1985 tornado outbreak. The county is extremely susceptible to flooding as well with at least 45 flash flood events since 1950. The Allegheny River bisects the county and it has also contributed to flooding events.”

“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,” Rossi said.

The National Weather Service is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department. NOAA 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 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 program information: http://www.stormready.noaa.gov

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