Oro Valley is a certified StormReady Community through 2012, according to the National Weather Service.
Ken Drozd, Tucson warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service, presented three-year renewal decals to Oro Valley Police Department Lt. Chris Olson last week. The decals are being placed on four StormReady Community signs — on La Cañada, on Oracle and two on Tangerine — in the community.
Oro Valley officially achieved StormReady status in May 2006. Every three years, a review is conducted to ensure the StormReady designation requirements continue to be fulfilled. Those requirements are based on population; because Oro Valley has now surpassed 40,000 residents, "they are more stringent," Drozd said.
"Since Oro Valley already has excellent procedures in place to receive and disseminate National Weather Service warnings, and regularly conducts emergency preparedness drills and hosts annual spotter training classes, maintaining the StormReady status will not be difficult," Drozd said in a release.
"StormReady encourages communities to prepare for local hazardous weather conditions by ensuring that a redundant communication system is in place, by promoting proficiency in life-saving skills among emergency responders who must act quickly during a hazardous weather related event, and through the education of the public at weather spotter training sessions," Drozd said.
"Families also need to be prepared for hazardous weather by having a their own action plan. It's ultimately everyone's responsibility to protect themselves."
Oro Valley and Pima County are the two certified StormReady local governments. "They are still meeting the requirements of the StormReady program," Drozd said.
Oro Valley can receive and disseminate National Weather Service warning information by NOAA weather radio, television, short wave or HAM radio and the Internet. The community can also distribute warnings via text message and e-mail. Oro Valley has also trained employees how to act in severe weather, and has conducted Sky 1 spotter training sessions.
StormReady started in 1999 with seven communities in the Tulsa, Okla., area. There now are more than 1,470 StormReady communities throughout the United States.
The United States is the most severe weather-prone region in the world. More than 10,000 severe thunderstorms, 2,500 floods, and 1,000 tornadoes impact the country in an average year, and around 500 Americans lose their lives to severe weather and floods.
In Southern Arizona, damaging winds are the most common weather effect, followed by flash flood warnings and lightning hazards. "When thunder roars, go indoors," Drozd said.
"We can't issue a warning on every storm," Drozd said. Oro Valley is ready to "make people more aware of severe weather, to prepare the community and act properly when storms do hit."
To be StormReady, a town must:
• Establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency
• 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.