Weather service proclaims county to be storm ready
LISBON — The Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency has completed the process to become the 34th county in Ohio to be certified as StormReady.
EMA Director Peggy Clark said she has been working for about two years to get Columbiana County certified as StormReady, a process she noted is “pretty stringent.” The certification process gets the county further ahead in preparing to warn county residents of imminent inclement weather and to respond after the severe weather passes.
There is also an education component to the certification process, teaching more people in the general public to further be alert and better prepared for the storms, flooding and tornadoes which have been known to come through Columbiana County.
Clark was officially presented with the StormReady certification during Wednesday’s county commissioner meeting by two meteorologists from the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh, Fred McMullen and Jason Frazier.
Frazier said he has been working with Clark and other communities in order to help them achieve the StormReady designation level and to create a stronger relationship between the county EMA and the National Weather Service, which is responsible for forecasting and providing the pending severe weather alerts to Columbiana County.
McMullen said the county has seen 20 tornadoes since 1950, including the storm that came through last year and he talked about the great job Clark and Assistant Director Brian Rutledge did in handling the situation and gathering the needed information. He also noted Columbiana County for a long time has been the highest attending county for skywarn classes out of the three Ohio counties working with the National Weather Service. StormReady classes have been held in conjunction with Columbiana County Career and Technical Center.
“The county is very receptive to weather training and very engaged,” McMullen said, “and we’re very appreciative of all the work that they do with us. So, congratulations to Peggy and Brian and all of the EMA staff.”
The protocol to be recognized as StormReady includes establishing a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center, as well as providing multiple resources in order to receive the severe weather forecast and to then alert the public. Additionally, a county must create a system for monitoring local weather conditions. Finally, the county is expected to develop a formal hazardous weather plan, including training those severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.
As the county worked toward the certification, Clark said the county’s decision to purchase the Wireless Emergency Alert System (WENS) was a big piece toward making the county better prepared. She wants to encourage residents to sign up for the program through WENS, which is free of charge and ensures they will receive the latest emergency alerts for their community from the National Weather Service.
Those with internet can sign up at www.ccoema.org and by clicking on the WENS button at the top of the page. Those without internet access can call the EMA at 330-424-9725 and they will be assisted in registering.