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May 9, 2005 - Officials from NOAA's National Weather Service recognized Gem County, Idaho as a leader by naming it among the agency’s StormReady communities. Idaho has more StormReady communities than any other state and Gem County now joins the existing 121 StormReady communities across Idaho.

“StormReady encourages communities to take a new, proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations and public awareness,” said Paul Flatt, warning coordination meteorologist at NOAA’s National Weather Service Forecast Office in Boise. “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 the local office of NOAA’s National Weather Service and state and local emergency managers. StormReady started in 1999 with seven communities in the Tulsa, Okla., area. There are now more than 880 StormReady sites in 47 states.

At today’s Gem County Commissioners meeting, John Jannuzzi, meteorologist-in-charge of the Boise Forecast Office will present 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 recertification process.

“ Gem County is home to 15,000 people with nearly 6,000 living in Emmett, the county seat. Gem County is also a popular recreation destination with outdoor enthusiasts, many of whom use the Payette River, which flows through the county. StormReady recognition assures residents and visitors of Gem County that emergency officials have access to National Weather Service warnings and are prepared to notify those in harms way in a timely manner,” said Steve Buck, Gem County Emergency Manager.

“The Payette River at Emmett has a river gauge location to record stream flow. This gauge has reported flooding eight times in the past 50 years including the years of 1964 and 1997. Such flooding can be financially costly as well as personally dangerous,” said Jay Breidenbach, service hydrologist at the Boise Forecast Office. “StormReady prepares county officials with proper river monitoring techniques as well as warning procedure.”

“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 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 NOAA’s 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,” said Flatt.

“Just like communities, families need to be storm ready by having an action plan for severe weather. Through StormReady, NOAA’s 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,” Flatt 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, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, 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:

Paul Flatt, NOAA’s National Weather Service, (208) 334-9861 Ext. 223
John Jannuzzi, NOAA’s National Weather Service, (208) 334-9861 Ext. 222

Related Web sites:

NOAA’s National Weather Service:
An image of the StormReady sign and more program information is available at:

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