NWS Renews Chillicothe's StormReady Status
October 19, 2015

The National Weather Service has renewed Chillicothe's StormReady status for another three years, with notification having been sent to Fire Chief Darrell Wright last week. Chillicothe was first designated as a StormReady community three years ago. StormReady helps equip communities with the communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property - before, during and after the event - and helps community leaders and emergency managers strengthen local safety programs.

StormReady is a nationwide community preparedness program that uses a grassroots approach to help communities develop plans to handle all types of severe weather - from tornadoes to tsunamis. The program encourages communities to take a new, proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations by providing emergency managers with clear-cut guidelines on how to improve their hazardous weather operations. Although local officials are unable to prevent storms from occurring, they can take steps to help communities be better prepared if a storm arises, according to Wright.

The Chillicothe Department of Emergency services maintains Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as participates in Textcaster alerts and siren testing. Weather alerts are also posted through the local TV station in town. The fire department also must offer two storm-related talks annually that are open to the public. "It keeps us and the public more conscious of it and makes us more aware of it," Wright said.

To be officially 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, and develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises. Participating in the StormReady program is voluntary, and there is no grant money associated with being recognized as StormReady. However, it helps prepare the public for storms, if they were to occur, and encourages the emergency personnel to remain aware of the possibility of storms. "It helps us stay up on storm readiness," Wright said. Renewals require a community to go through the application process again. This helps to ensure that equipment is in place and updated, contact information is accurate, and allows for improvements to be made to the program using technological advances in communications and warning dissemination.

County becomes 'storm ready'
July 23, 2013
Austin Buckner Chillicothe News - Chillicothe, MO

C-T Photo / Austin Buckner

CAPTION: Livingston County Emergency Management and the Livingston County Commission announced their involvement in the National Weather Service StormReady program on Thursday, July 18. Pictured, from left: Todd Rodenberg, West District commissioner; Sherry Parks, Livingston County clerk; Andy Bailey, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service; Eva Danner, presiding commissioner; Darrell Wright, Chillicothe fire chief; and Ken Lauhoff, East District commissioner.

In an effort to better prepare area residents for severe weather, Livingston County Emergency Management and the Livingston County Commission announced their involvement in the National Weather Service's StormReady program. Since the program's creation in 1999, more than 2,000 StormReady sites have been established in 49 states, Puerto Rico and Guam. This includes 1,007 counties, 801 communities, 137 universities, 13 Indian nations, 67 commercial sites, 52 military destinations and 29 government sites. In the state of Missouri, there are currently 73 StormReady designations. This includes 21 counties, 46 communities, two commercial sites and four universities.

At the announcement on July 18, Livingston County Presiding Commissioner Eva Danner said the county's involvement as one of the select few in the state participating in the program is commendable. "There are 1,000 counties in the program nationwide and 6,000 counties total," Danner explained. "We're in the minority. It makes me feel really good."

In order to qualify for StormReady designation, communities with a population of 2,500 to 14,999 must adhere to six guidelines set by the NWS. Guideline 1 deals with communication. Each community must establish a 24-hour warning point and establish an emergency operations center. Guideline 2 states a community with a population this size must establish at least four different was to receive NWS warnings. Guideline 3 states the community must have at least two ways to monitor hydrometerological data. Guideline 4 sets the standard for local warning dissemination. The guideline states the community must have at least two ways to disseminate warnings to the public. Guideline 5 states the community must host at least two annual weather safety talks. The final guideline deals with the administrative aspect of the program. This guideline states the StormReady community must have a formal hazardous weather operations strategy, plan biennial visits by the emergency manager to the NWS and host one annual visit by an NWS official to the community.

According to the NWS, the StormReady program "helps arm communities with the communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property before and during the event." Andy Bailey, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Kansas City, Mo., said these communication and safety skills, coupled with the use of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio, helped save the lives in a StormReady community in Ohio. "Van Wert, Ohio, actually became StormReady in the late 90s," Bailey explained. "They had an F4 tornado move through Van Wert about a year after they became StormReady and demolished most of their town. As part of their preparedness for becoming StormReady, their emergency manager recommended that businesses should really have a NOAA weather radio. A movie theater got those weather radios installed. That movie theater actually got hit and completely flattened. One theater in particular was filled with kids on Thanksgiving break. Because they had the weather radio, they got everyone out of the theaters and into the bathrooms. The bathrooms did not sustain any damage. Cars were actually thrown up against the seats in that movie theater were all the kids had been sitting. Because they had a weather radio and because of the StormReady program, that theater was able to take care of its patrons."

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