By: Jennifer Britt
The Parsons Advocate
Kevin White, Director of the Tucker County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) was honored during the Tucker County Commissioners meeting by Warning Coordination Meteorologist Fred McMullen of the National Weather Service from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for making Tucker County StormReady. Tucker County has become the 18th county in West Virginia to be honored with this certificate of recognition. A sign that can be placed on a roadway and states Tucker County is StormReady was also presented to White.
The StormReady status will be in effect for four years and will need to be renewed by application prior to its expiration date. Included with White’s recognition a letter signed by James Frazier, the StormReady program leader from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania said, “Tucker County has seen it fair share of severe weather and flooding. Since 1950, there have been over 120 reported events of severe weather which does not include the June 23, 1994, Appalachian Tornado Outbreak where an F3 and F4 tornado impacted the county.
The F3 tornado struck Thomas around 10:30 p.m. causing a reported three fatalities and 25 injuries plus numerous reports of leveled homes and even two army camp sites.
The F4, which more impacted Shinnston, West Virginia, still managed to produce three fatalities in the far southwest corner of Tucker County before its path of destruction came to an end near Harman in Randolph County.
Thunderstorm downburst winds also pose a significant threat to the area, like the July 27, 2014, microburst near Pleasant Run that has estimated winds of 105 to 110 mph and caused numerous tree and power line damage.
Winter Storms are just as impactful throughout the county, with single day snow fall measurements near Davis, West Virginia exceeding one foot 11 times just since 2002.”
The National Weather Service page found at www.weather.gov/stormready explains what it means to be StormReady: “Being part of a Weather-Ready Nation is about preparing for your community’s increasing vulnerability to extreme weather and water events. Americans live in the most severe weather-prone country on Earth. You can make sure your community is StormReady. Some 98 percent of all Presidentially declared disasters are weather related, leading to around 500 deaths per year and nearly $15 billion in damage.
The StormReady program helps arm America’s communities with the communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property–before, during and after the event. StormReady helps community leaders and emergency managers strengthen local safety programs.
StormReady communities, counties, Indian nations, universities and colleges, military bases, government sites, commercial enterprises and other groups are better prepared to save lives from the onslaught of severe weather through advanced planning, education and awareness. No community is storm proof, but StormReady can help communities save lives.
StormReady uses a grassroots approach to help communities develop plans to handle all types of extreme weather—from tornadoes to winter storms. The 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. Applying is easy. To be officially StormReady, a community must:
- Establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center
- Have more than one way to receive severe weather warnings and forecasts and to 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.”
McMullen said, “Kevin (White) works with us during major events like the triathlon and big outdoor events. We give him weather briefings ahead of time. That way he knows what the hazards are going into the event. He is also a part of annual distribution lists that includes a watch list for severe weather alerts, and he starts conference calls with all state, local and federal officials. He has been a great part in it for us. Kevin (White) is well attuned, and he is working great with us. We are appreciative of all the efforts that he has done.”
White thanked the Commission by saying, “Thank you for the support and allowing us to do that because without your support it would not have gotten done.” Commissioner Mike Rosenau said, “It is well deserved and without you (speaking to White) it would not have gotten done.” To which White responded with, “It is a team effort!”