By Russell Sellers, Army Flier StaffMay 28, 2010
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Hurricane season hits June 1 and Fort Rucker is "StormReady."
The nationwide program is a project of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service that helps communities better protect their citizens during severe weather.
To be recognized as StormReady, an agency must have a 24-hour warning point to receive National Weather Service information, and provide local reports and advice. Installation Emergency Operations Officer Lt. Col. Michael Hughes was instrumental in the certification process and believes it will be beneficial to Soldiers and residents.
"I sent in the application and verified we had all the systems in place," Hughes said. "This is a verification we're doing the right things to get the word out sooner to the public in the case of severe weather."
Hughes wants everyone on post to know the latest weather information is always available on Channel 6. He noted that in case of severe weather, Emergency Operations has the ability to let Soldiers know what's going on regardless of their chosen form of communication.
"We have an e-mail system set up, we use the (ticker) on Channel 6 and on-post residents can tune their radios to AM 1640," he said. "There are also flashing lights set up around post."
In the coming weeks, Hughes hopes to get official StormReady signs for each gate to let the public know about the installation's successful certification.
Jeffry Evans, NOAA warning coordination meteorologist in Tallahassee, Fla., commended the installation on its efforts to become StormReady.
"Fort Rucker is one of the few military installations in the area to actually go through the certification process," he said. "This is a great way for (the installation) to communicate that it's ready in case something happens."
Going through the certification process helps to ensure information coming in and going out is quick and accurate - an important factor for areas that regularly experience severe weather, Evans said.
"The area in and around (the post) is a fairly active part of the country," Evans said. "This year could also wind up being an above-average season."
According to Evans, the temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean have been warmer than usual this year. Combined with weakening El NiAfA+-o conditions, this could mean stronger hurricanes.
"It's still too early to tell what's going to happen, but warmer temperatures usually mean more or stronger storms," he said.
The purpose of the StormReady program is to improve the timeliness and effectiveness of hazardous weather warnings for the public, provide detailed and clear recommendations, help local emergency managers justify costs and reward local hazardous-weather mitigation programs that have achieved a desired performance level, Evans said.