NWS Recognizes Benton County, Ark. as
Nation's 1,000th StormReady® Community
(L to R) WFO Tulsa MIC Steve Piltz, Southern Region Director Bill Proenza, Benton County EM Director Marshal Watson and Benton County Judge Gary Black pose during 1,000th StormReady community recognition ceremony (Photo: WFO Little Rock)
(April 7, 2006) -- Benton County, Ark. has been recognized as the nation's 1,000th StormReady® community. A formal recognition ceremony was held at the Northwest Arkansas Community College in Rogers. The popular, life-saving StormReady program has grown rapidly since it was launched with seven communities in the Tulsa, Okla. area in 1999.
The concept was developed by NWS meteorologists Steven Piltz and Lans Rothfusz at the NWS Weather Forecast Office in Tulsa. The seven original communities were part of the Tulsa WFO County Warning Area -- which also includes Benton County.
"StormReady encourages communities to take a new, proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations and public awareness," said Bill Proenza, director of the National Weather Service Southern Region. "StormReady arms communities with improved communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property - before and during the event."
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. Benton County is one of 10 StormReady communities in Arkansas. Officials there were presented with a formal recognition letter and StormReady signs. The StormReady recognition will be in effect for three years when the county will go through a recertification process.
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.