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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow WALLOWA COUNTY READY FOR STORMS


By Gary Fletcher

Observer Staff Writer

ENTERPRISE — Wallowa County is Oregon's first "StormReady" county.

In a ceremony Tuesday at the courthouse, Wallowa County Commission Chairman Mike Hayward and Commissioner Darrell McFetridge accepted certificates, plaques and road signs from officials of the National Weather Service.

A separate certificate honored Matthew Marmor, the county's emergency services director. Under Marmor's leadership Wallowa County joined more than 400 communities nationwide that became part of StormReady.

StormReady is a national program that helps local emergency management officials prepare their counties to be ready for severe weather threats.

"If a dangerous storm is headed for the area, the people who live, work or vacation in Wallowa County will be more knowledgeable and be better prepared to handle these situations," said Bruce Bauck, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service's office in Pendleton.

"A partnership of all levels of the community has contributed to this process," Bauck said.

Among the 20 people in the audience hearing Bauck's remarks were volunteer weather observers and spotters.

Thanks to the efforts of Wallowa County Emergency Management, schools, municipalities, amateur radio, weather spotters and law enforcement, "We have furthered our agency's mission to continue to educate citizens on how they can help protect their lives and property from the potential effects of Mother Nature's fury," Bauck said.

Weather radios are strategically placed in city offices, schools, the hospital and at Wallowa Lake State Park. They broadcast forecasts and weather observations and sound an alarm in the event of a severe weather alert. Weather radios can be purchased at various electronic stores.

As examples of Wallowa County's weather preparedness, the weather station at the Wallowa School has real-time weather data on the Internet. Volunteer weather observer Scott Hampton of Joseph has an automated weather station and the Web site www.firegone.com.

"Just click on ‘Local Joseph Weather,' " Hampton said. Automatic e-mails of weather warnings can be requested from the site.

"From big cities to small towns, StormReady guidelines prepare communities with an action plan that responds to the threat of all types of severe weather," Bauck said.

"Wallowa County has established a way to better protect citizens from severe weather threats."

StormReady is a voluntary preparedness program that establishes guidelines for communities to follow. Counties adopt requirements in the areas of communications, warning reception and dissemination, public outreach, awareness and administrative planning.

"Preparedness and advance warning are vital factors in severe weather situations," said Dennis Hull, NWS warning coordination meteorologist in Pendleton. Citizens in mountainous counties that are prone to flash floods and winter storms must understand the importance of keeping safe in severe weather, he said.

The National Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world.

Each forecast office posts daily forecasts and severe weather warnings on its Web pages.

Links to NWS offices across the country are available through http://weather.gov.

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