Weather Service Designates A-State ‘StormReady Community’

JONESBORO – Arkansas State University received the National Weather Service’s StormReady Community designation in recognition of the staff’s work on emergency readiness and procedures.

“Arkansas State has demonstrated a commitment to hazardous weather preparedness,” Jim Belles, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service’s Memphis Forecast Office.  “This commitment will benefit the university staff, the Weather Service, and most importantly, the students and faculty of A-State.  Whenever hazardous weather threatens, the Arkansas State community can take comfort in knowing that their local officials are as prepared as possible.”Gary Woodall, warning coordination meteorologist of the Memphis NWS office, presented A-State Chancellor Kelly Damphousse with the official StormReady road sign that signifies a local community’s inclusion.

To achieve the StormReady designation, Arkansas State’s severe weather preparedness plans were reviewed and scored against six criteria including how the university receives and monitors weather, the ways it distributes that information, and overall weather planning.

“Arkansas State met, and in many cases, exceeded the criteria,” Woodall said in his remarks.   “However, their drills and advance planning activities for large events were particularly impressive.”

Arkansas State is the largest university in the state of Arkansas named StormReady.  Combined with the city of Jonesboro and Craighead County, this becomes the first “triple” StormReady college or university town in the state.  For the Memphis NWS office, A-State is the first university in Arkansas deemed Storm Ready.

Damphousse recognized A-State’s emergency coordinator Jon Carvell, university police chief Randy Martin and others who worked on the application and certification process.

“As you all know, I’ve spent some time at a university with close ties to the Weather Service and I have a keen appreciation of what severe weather means to a university,” Damphousse said.  “I’ve been told about how weather has impacted A-State in the past, and I’m pleased that our administration, faculty and staff have put an emphasis on weather safety.”

The StormReady program began in the late 1990s and spread nationwide as local communities sought to improve their local severe weather preparedness.  It is a cooperative effort between the National Weather Service and emergency managers at the state and local level.  The program focuses on aspects of a community’s hazardous weather operations, including:  the presence of an Emergency Operations Center; a 24-hour contact for warning information; adequate means of receiving NWS warnings and statements; sufficient local warning systems; efficient communications with the NWS Office in Memphis; and public education and outreach efforts.

“StormReady is a community-level recognition, but it is up to all of us to ensure we are personally as prepared as we can be,” Woodall reminded the crowd.

In Arkansas, Southern Arkansas University, University of Arkansas-Monticello and UAMS are the other StormReady universities.  For the Memphis NWS region, A-State joins University of Mississippi, University of Memphis and Southeast Missouri State.

Arkansas State shares the triple with Ole Miss, as Oxford and Lafayette County are also StormReady.

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