FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service recognized Fort Bragg as a StormReady Community at a ceremony Nov. 21.

Nick Petro, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service Office in Raleigh, N.C., presented Col. Stephen Sicinski, Fort Bragg garrison commander, with a letter certifying the installation, which has a daytime population of more than 50,000 people, as one of three military installations in the state to receive the "StormReady" recognition. The certification is the result of Fort Bragg's dedication to all those who train, work, and live at Fort Bragg.

Petro also presented a certificate of commendation to Calvin McKenzie, Fort Bragg emergency management planner, who helped lead the effort to get Fort Bragg certified for the program.

"The 'StormReady' program encourages public and private organizations to take a proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations and awareness," said Petro. "North Carolina and the Sand Hills region of the state have a long history of severe weather ranging from snow storms to flooding and tornadoes. Fort Bragg was directly impacted by the tornado outbreak of April 16. It is the goal of 'StormReady' to mitigate the impact of severe weather through community education and preparedness."

The nationwide community preparedness program uses a grassroots approach to help organizations develop plans to handle severe local weather and flooding threats. The program is voluntary and provides communities with clear-cut advice from a partnership between the local NWS Weather Forecast Office and state and local emergency managers. 'StormReady' started in 1999 with seven communities in the Tulsa, Okla., area. There are now more than 1800 'StormReady' sites in 48 states, Puerto Rico, and Guam.

To be recognized as storm ready, a business, school, community or county must:
Establish a warning point and emergency operations center.

Have multiple ways to receive severe weather warnings and forecasts and disseminate alerts.
Create a system that monitors weather conditions locally.

Promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars.
Develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.