National Weather Service officials have recognized The University of Texas at Austin as a StormReady University.
"StormReady encourages communities to take a proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations and public awareness in partnership with their local National Weather Service office," said Joe Arellano, meteorologist-in-charge of the National Weather Service Austin/San Antonio forecast office.
Arellano will present university officials with a recognition certificate and StormReady signs during a ceremony at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8 at the UTPD offices, 2201 Robert Dedman Drive at The University of Texas at Austin.
The nationwide community preparedness program uses a grass-roots 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 more than 1,800 StormReady communities, including 14 universities in Texas.
"We are very proud to receive the StormReady certification. The program enables us to improve safety and communication needed to save lives -- before, during and after a severe weather event," said Gerald Harkins, the university's associate vice president for campus safety and security.
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 program is part of the National Weather Service's working partnership with the International Association of Emergency Managers and the National Emergency Management Association. The StormReady recognition expires in three years, after which the university will go through a renewal process.