NOAA RECOGNIZES FLATHEAD COUNTY, MONT., STORMREADY
Oct. 27 — Officials from NOAA's National Weather Service recognized Flathead County, Mont., as a leader by naming it one of the agency's StormReady communities today. NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
“StormReady encourages counties to take a new, proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations and public awareness,” said Peter Felsch, warning coordination meteorologist at the NWS Weather Forecast Office in Missoula, Mont. “The National Weather Service recognizes Flathead County for the wide variety of disaster resistant projects that help prepare their citizens and emergency responders for severe weather and flood threats as well as significant winter storms.”
The nationwide community preparedness program uses a grassroots approach to help organizations such as counties, cities, military installations, universities, or other community groups 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 NWS Weather 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 770 StormReady communities in 47 states.
During a presentation today at the Flathead County Emergency Operations Center in Kalispell, NWS officials presented a StormReady 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 recertification process.
“StormReady provides several benefits to our communities,” said Alan Marble, Flathead County Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinator. “Benefits include improved timeliness and effectiveness of weather warnings to the public, detailed recommendations to help improve hazardous weather operations for local authorities and an 'image incentive' to our cities and counties that can identify themselves as being StormReady. In fact, for those areas participating in the National Flood Insurance Program, a StormReady designation means reduced flood insurance rates.”
“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, 1,000 tornadoes, and 10 hurricanes impact the United States annually. Potentially deadly weather can impact 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 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 severeweather spotters and holding emergency exercises.
“The United States is the most severe weather prone region of the world,” said Johnson. “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 counties throughout the country.”
“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 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 action when severe weather threatens,” Felsch added.
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.
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.
Eric Boldt, NWS Missoula: (406) 329-4715
Greg Romano, NWS: (301) 713-0622
Alan Marble, Flathead County Disaster and Emergency Services: (406) 758-5560
Related Web sites:
National Weather Service: http://www.nws.noaa.gov
An image of the StormReady sign and more program information is available at http://www.stormready.noaa.gov