University receives storm readiness designation from National Weather Service

From left: Radford University's Director of Emergency Management Peter McCann and interim President Carolyn Ringer Lepre, Ph.D., receive a StormReady plaque and roadsign from National Weather Service representatives Doug Butts and Phil Hysell.

When it comes right down to it, the most common danger Radford University faces on a regular basis is actually one of the oldest hazards there is: Mother Nature.

"The most frequent threat we face as an institution of higher education is the threat posed by severe weather," university Director of Emergency Management Peter McCann said this week.

That includes hurricanes, snow and ice storms and flooding rains, among other forms.

The university recently took significant steps, however, toward planning ahead against such sudden meteorological events, and, on April 25, it was formally named a StormReady Supporter by the National Weather Service.

During a brief meeting at Martin Hall, Phil Hysell, a warning coordination meteorologist with the NWS, presented interim President Carolyn Ringer Lepre, Ph.D., with both a plaque and a road sign that announce this new designation.

"The storm program recognizes those communities that take a proactive approach in improving their hazardous weather operations and in promoting severe-weather preparedness activities and participating in those awareness activities," Hysell explained.

"They're more resilient, responsive and ready for significant weather events," he added.

Some of the requirements for the program included establishing a 24-hour warning point location, with a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration radio, at the Radford Police Department dispatch center; setting up multiple ways to receive and monitor NWS warnings; installing a method to alert the community of weather warnings; conducting outreach initiatives to educate the community on weather preparedness; and maintaining a hazardous weather plan.

"This certification represents a partnership between Radford University and the National Weather Service to provide the best service possible to the Radford community when it comes to managing the potential for impacts from severe weather," McCann said.

Radford University has actually been compliant with the StormReady Supporter program requirements since November 2020, but the pandemic prevented a public recognition ceremony until this month.

The StormReady program was developed in 1999, and today, there are more than 3,000 StormReady communities and universities across the United States. The StormReady Supporter designation in Virginia applies to universities with fewer than 10,000 students living within the center of campus.

May 5, 2022
Neil Harvey
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