Champlain Town Supervisor Larry Barcomb ( left) receives a Storm Ready sign and certificate from Andy Nash, meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service, Burlington.
The Town of Champlain is the first Storm Ready location in northern New York.
In fact, it joins the ranks of less than 2,000 Storm Ready designations nationwide.
“Our primary mission is protection of life and property,” said Andy Nash, meteorologist-in-charge, National Weather Service, Burlington. “We are not able to stop severe weather, and that is where preparedness happens.”
Storm Ready is a community preparedness program that encourages government entities and commercial gathering sites to prepare for severe storms. The program is sponsored by the National Weather Service and issues recognition to locations nationwide that demonstrate severe weather readiness.
The voluntary program provides communities with advice from a partnership with the National Weather Service and state and local emergency managers.
“We developed the Storm Ready program and work with community officials to ensure they can monitor anything we issue,” Nash said. “There is practicing and drilling in case of a disaster.”
Over the past six months, the National Weather Service has worked with Town of Champlain officials on earning Storm Ready status.
“We want to make sure you have all it takes to meet our criteria as Storm Ready,” Nash said.
To be officially Storm Ready, a community or site must:
- Establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency-operations center.
- Have redundant communications systems 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.
Weather radios, at a minimum, must be located at four sites within Storm Ready communities, including emergency operations centers, 24-hour warning points, city hall, and all school superintendent offices.
The National Weather Service trains emergency managers, dispatchers and other first responders on how to stay vigilant by identifying features in clouds that indicate severe weather.
“We hope this gives your folks in town a little more sense of safety,” Nash said.
There are 1,857 Storm Ready communities nationwide.
The program was credited with saving more than 50 lives in Van Wert County, Ohio in November 2002.
The United States experiences about 10,000 thunderstorms, 5,000 floods, 1,000 floods and 2 deadly hurricanes yearly, according to the National Weather Service.
“Our goal is to make Clinton County a Storm Ready community,” said Chris Trombley, deputy fire coordinator for Clinton County Emergency Services. “That will take some effort.”
“It is a sliding scale based on population, but the basic thing is a warning point that will receive our warnings and pass them on,” said Greg Hanson, service hydrologist for the National Weather Service, Burlington. “They need to have done some drills and training to ensure they have practiced so if weather is hazardous they know how to respond to it.”
One key is redundancy and free flow of information, he said.
“Disasters start locally and the need is local,” said Eric Day, director of Emergency Services for Clinton County. “They need to be prepared and have a means of warning and notification.”
Hopefully, as residents see Storm Ready signs in Champlain they will begin working on their own emergency-preparedness plans, Nash said.
“No matter how well a community is prepared it is up to individuals to be prepared. We don't want to wait until the event happens.”