(L - R) John Mathews, director, Sevier County, Tenn. EMA, Sevier Co. Mayor Larry Waters and Tim Troutman, WCM, WFO Knoxville/Tri-Cities (Photo: WFO Knoxville/Tri-Cities)
(April 22, 2010) - Officials from the National Weather service forecast office serving the Knoxville/Tri-Cities area have recognized Sevier County, Tenn. and Wise County, Va. as StormReady® communities.
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 the local National Weather Service forecast office and state and local emergency managers.
The program began in 1999 with seven communities in the Tulsa, Okla., area. Today, there are nearly 1,600 StormReady communities.
"The program is designed to help StormReady communities improve communication and safety skills needed to save lives - before, during and after a severe weather event," said Tim Troutman, warning coordination meteorologist for the forecast office.
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; and, develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.
The StormReady programs is part of NOAA National Weather Service's working partnership with the International Association of Emergency Managers and the National Emergency Management Association. The recognitions expire in three years, after which the counties will go through a renewal process.
WFO Knoxville/Tri-Cities Warning Coordination Meteorologist Tim Troutman (fourth from right) poses with Wise Co., Va. officials and staff at StormReady recognition ceremony (Photo: WFO Knoxville/Tri-Cities)