Washtenaw County Receives Storm Ready Designation

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On June 12, 2001, Washtenaw County received the StormReady designation from the National Weather Service.  StormReady is a nationwide community preparedness program that uses a grassroots approach to help communities develop plans to handle all types of severe weatherfrom tornadoes to tsunamis. The program encourages communities to take a new, proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations by providing emergency managers with clear-cut guidelines on how to improve their hazardous weather operations.

Each bullet below is a StormReady criteria.  Each line under the bullet indicates how Washtenaw County met the criteria.

  • Establish a 24-hour warning point and Emergency Operations Center

  • Have at least three methods to receive severe weather warnings and forecasts

    • National Weather Service satellite Weatherwire system is installed in the Emergency Communications Center.

    • Emergency Alert System decoder is installed in the Emergency Communications Center.

    • NOAA Weather Radio with SAME decoder is installed in the Emergency Communications Center.

    • Director and Assistant Director receive alphanumeric pager messages about all weather bulletins.

    • Director and Assistant Director receive e-mail messages about all weather bulletins.

    • The Law Enforcement Information Network terminals in the county's 9-1-1 Center receive all severe weather bulletins for lower Michigan.

    • The EMWIN weather data stream is accessable as a backup through both T1 and dial-up internet connections in the Emergency Communications Center.

  • Establish numerous methods of disseminating severe weather warnings to the general public

    • The Emergency Alert System encoder installed in the Emergency Communications Center will be activated to quickly notify all local broadcast stations about severe weather watches and warnings.

    • The Quick-call radio system, with 160 receivers located in key facilities throughout the county, will be activated.

    • Numerous sirens located in Superior Township, Dexter Township, Scio Township, Northfield Township, Dexter Village, Chelsea Village, Augusta Township, Ypsilanti, Saline, Milan and Ann Arbor will be activated for all Tornado Warnings.

    • County-wide public safety radio broadcasts will be issued for all watches and warnings.

    • A broadcast on the county's Amateur Radio Skywarn repeater will be issued.

    • All key Public Safety personnel will receive alphanumeric pager messages about severe weather bulletins.

    • All county government personnel, key public safety personnel, and volunteers will receive severe weather bulletins via group e-mail list supported by the Washtenaw County Government internet server.

  • Create a system that monitors weather conditions locally

    • A satellite linked Kavouras RADAC 2100 is installed in Emergency Communications Center for the real-time display of Doppler radar images, infrared satellite images, and convective weather risk maps.  The Director and Assistant Director have the ability to dial-in to the radar system using laptop computers at home or from the field.  Radar imagery is also displayed in the Emergency Operations Center and the in county's 9-1-1 center, adjacent to the Emergency Communications Center.

    • A Texas Weather Instruments industrial grade weather station is installed in the Emergency Communications Center. Temperature, humidity, wind speed/direction, barometric pressure, precipitation and cloud-to-ground lightning strikes are monitored and displayed in both the Emergency Communications Center and the 9-1-1 Center.

  • Promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars

    • Four basic Skywarn Spotter trainings are held every year.  In 2001, the classes were attened by 340 citizens, public safety personnel, and Amateur Radio Operators.

    • An advanced level Skywarn Spotter course is held annually, with 140 trained at this level in 2001.

    • Several severe weather preparedness presentations are held annually.  Organizations include local service clubs, colleges, scouting and community watch groups.

    • The division is interviewed by numerous radio, television and newspaper organizations for severe weather, winter weather and flooding awareness campaigns.

    • Pre- and post-significant severe weather event information briefings are aired on WAAM and on other radio and television stations, and follow-up articles are often written by the Ann Arbor News.

  • Develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training spotters and holding emergency exercises

    • Washtenaw County's formal hazardous weather plan is the Emergency Management Division Severe Weather Protocol, which is updated annually.

    • The Washtenaw County Emergency Operations Plan is the primary disaster management plan, and it includes training procedures and disaster exercise plans.

    • To learn more about the technical requirements that we had to meet, please visit the national StormReady page.

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