Parkland College was recently designated a National Weather Service StormReady® College.
NWS officials praised the Parkland Public Safety department at the college’s July 16 Board of Trustees meeting, "for completing a set of rigorous criteria necessary to earn the honor of becoming a StormReady® College," according to an NWS press release. Parkland is the first college in eastern Illinois to earn the preparedness program designation.
“StormReady encourages colleges, businesses and communities to take a proactive approach to improve local hazardous weather operations and public awareness," said Chris Miller, warning coordination meteorologist at the NWS’s central Illinois weather forecast office in Lincoln. “StormReady arms these communities with improved communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property – before and during a hazardous weather event.”
The nationwide community preparedness program
uses a grassroots approach to help colleges, businesses and communities develop plans to handle local severe weather and flooding threats. StormReady started in 1999 with seven communities in the Tulsa, Okla., area. There are now more than 2,210 StormReady communities across the country.
“Every year, around 650 Americans lose their lives to severe weather and floods,” said Ernest Goetsch, Meteorologist-in-Charge of the Lincoln NWS Office. “More than 26,000 severe thunderstorms, 5,000 floods and 1,300 tornadoes affect the United States annually. Potentially deadly weather can affect every person in the country. That’s why the NWS developed the StormReady program.”
To be recognized as StormReady, Parkland College had to meet the following criteria:
• Have an established 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center;
• Have multiple, redundant ways to receive severe weather forecasts and warnings and to alert the public;
• Create a system that monitors local weather conditions;
• Promote the importance of preparedness across the campus;
• Designate secure shelters for people to gather during hazardous weather;
• Develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises
The StormReady recognition will be in effect for three years, after which the college will go through a renewal process.
“We were extremely impressed with the level of planning and attention to detail related to hazardous weather preparedness and sheltering at the Parkland College campus,” said Bak. “Students and their families, as well as faculty, employees and visitors can have the peace of mind that public safety officials at Parkland College are watching out for hazardous weather, and have the infrastructure in place to quickly warn and shelter people in the event of an impending storm.”
StormReady is part of a National Weather Service working partnership with the International Association of Emergency Managers and the National Emergency Management Association. StormReady® is a registered trademark used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
[Image: Parkland and National Weather Service officials pose for presentation of StormReady® designation to college.]