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Nov. 11 — Officials from NOAA's National Weather Service today said the Puget Sound metro area is taking winter by storm and recognized the City of Seattle and King, Pierce and Snohomish counties among the agency’s “StormReady” communities. With a population reaching two million residents, the region is now the largest metro area in the nation to commit to the StormReady program and its mission to help protect citizens from severe weather events. NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“StormReady encourages jurisdictions to take a new proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations and public awareness. These Puget Sound communities have taken an excellent coordinated approach to severe weather and flooding concerns,” said Chris Hill, meteorologist in charge at the NWS forecast office in Seattle. “The leaders of King, Pierce and Snohomish counties and the city of Seattle have shown great dedication to achieve StormReady status. Their hard work and sincere partnership with the National Weather Service directly benefits citizens.”

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 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 800 StormReady communities in 47 states.

Since 1950, Washington state has averaged one federally declared weather disaster each year with flooding the most common calamity, followed by wind, snow/ice, wildfires and landslides.

“StormReady recognition is a positive indication these communities take the dangers of severe weather seriously,” said Dr. James R. Mahoney, assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA deputy administrator. "NOAA commends the efforts of community leaders to protect their citizenry from harm. We hope these efforts will continue to spread across the country."

At a news conference held at the NOAA Sand Point facility in Seattle today, Hill presented recognition letters and special StormReady signs to Seattle Emergency Management Director Grace Crunican, King County Executive Ron Sims, Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg and Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon. The StormReady recognition will be in effect for three years when each jurisdiction 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, 1,000 tornadoes and 10 hurricanes impact the United States annually. 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.

“The United States is one of the most severe weather prone regions of the world. 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,” said Ted Buehner, warning coordination meteorologist at the Seattle weather forecast office.

"Just like communities, families need to be storm ready by having an action plan for severe weather. Through StormReady, the National Weather Service and its partners plan 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,” Buehner 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.

Media contacts:

Greg Romano, NWS Public Affairs: (301) 713-0622
Ted Buehner, NWS Weather Forecast Office: (206) 526-6095

Additional media contacts:

Eric Holdeman, King County Office of Emergency Management: (206) 205-4060
Roger Serra, Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management: (425) 423-7635
Steve Bailey, Pierce County Department of Emergency Management: (253) 798-6595

Related Web sites:

National Weather Service: or
StormReady graphics and program information:


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  Page last modified: 11-Mar-2010 9:35 AM