National Weather Service awards StormReady designation to ATU

Meteorologists Dennis Cavanaugh and Lance Pyle from the National Weather Service in Little Rock traveled to Russellville on Nov. 16 to present Arkansas Tech University with the NWS StormReady designation.

The award was the culmination of a two-year process led by Heath Whorton, who serves as university emergency manager as part of the ATU Department of Public Safety.

“Arkansas Tech has met 90 percent of the StormReady qualifications for a very long time,” said Whorton. “Some recent changes and additions to our preparedness, including our mobile emergency operations center, put us over the top in earning this designation. When parents and students see the StormReady sign when they come on to campus, they will see the strides we have made to prepare ourselves for hazardous weather.”

Whorton and Joshua McMillian, chief of the ATU Department of Public Safety, accepted the award on behalf of the institution.

Requirements to become NWS StormReady include:

*Establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center.

*Have multiple ways to receive severe weather warnings and forecasts/alert the public.

*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

According to the NWS, the StormReady 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.”

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