WFO Huntsville WCM David Nadler (Far left), MIC Chris Darden (Far Right) and AEMA Dir. Art Faulkner (2nd from Right) pose with emergency managers for northern Alabama counties (Photo: WFO Huntsville)
(Feb. 27, 2012) - In a special ceremony Feb. 22, the National Weather Service re-designated 11 north Alabama counties as StormReady® communities. When they were originally designated as StormReady on April 4, 2003, it was the first time a forecast office's entire county warning area was recognized at the same time.
The original recognition date also marked the 29th anniversary of the April 3-4, 1974 Tornado Outbreak which spawned 148 tornadoes and killed 330 people, making it the deadliest tornado outbreak up to that time.
Since then, North Alabama has experienced many extreme weather events which have served to emphasize the significance of the weather safety and preparedness program, while helping to build a strong working relationship between the National Weather Service forecast office in Huntsville and the emergency management community.
The county emergency managers on hand for the re-designation exemplify the kind of leadership needed to mitigate loss of life during natural disasters. Their attitude and work ethic is critical as the National Weather Service transitions toward a more Weather Ready Nation.
Huntsville Meteorologist-In-Charge, Chris Darden said, "The goal of the StormReady project is to help counties and communities to be optimally prepared when, not if, the next severe weather event impacts their area."
Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Art Faulkner noted, "It has been seen firsthand that StormReady helps enhance communication and safety skills needed to save lives before and during severe weather."
The re-designated North Alabama counties include: Lauderdale, Colbert, Franklin, Lawrence, Morgan, Limestone, Madison, Jackson, DeKalb, Marshall and Cullman. Following the original 11, the Tennessee counties of Lincoln, Moore and Franklin were added to the Huntsville warning area.