UM-Flint Earns National Weather Service Designation

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The University of Michigan-Flint has been designated by the National Weather Service (NWS) as a "Storm Ready" university.

"Storm Ready" is a nationwide community preparedness program that uses a grassroots 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 a partnership between the local NWS weather forecast office and state and local emergency managers.

"The safety of our campus community is one of our major concerns," said UM-Flint Chancellor Ruth J. Persons. "This designation by the National Weather Service recognizes the university's on-going preparedness planning to protect the students, faculty and staff in weather related emergencies."

"The StormReady program helps create collaboration in community preparedness," said Gail Phelps, emergency preparedness coordinator. "Good planning reduces fear and losses that accompany disasters."

In early June, as part of qualifying for the designation, a large number of UM-Flint faculty and staff received special training to be SKYWARN spotters. The Environment, Health, and Safety Department hosted National Weather Service trainers, Karen Clark and Phil Kurimski, to conduct two SKYWARN classes. Forty faculty and staff received the training, including employees from Facilities and Operations, Events and Building Management, Recreation Services, Northbank Center, and the Public Safety Department. Representatives from community organizations also attended. The subject matter covered in the class included how thunderstorms develop, storm structures, potential severe weather features, and how to properly report to the weather service. Special instruction was also given on severe weather safety.

Other requirements include:

• 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

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

A team composed of NWS and local Emergency Management officials visited the campus last October and gave UM-Flint a successful review to all criteria. A formal presentation of the Storm Ready certification is being planned in the spring.

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