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Mushers Will Race Through Alaska’s New StormReady Communities

NOAA illustration using StormReady poster.March 5, 2007 Alaska’s 2007 Iditarod, often called “The Last Great Race on Earth,” will be a showcase for four newly designated StormReady® communities, a distinction given by the NOAA National Weather Service to communities that have completed rigorous warning and evacuation criteria to keep people out of harm’s way. The more than 1,150-mile race got underway Sunday in Willow, about 60 miles north of Anchorage. (Click NOAA illustration using StormReady poster for larger view. Click here for high resolution version. Please credit “NOAA.”)

“Nowhere is there more concern about weather safety than in Alaska where people live in vulnerable coastal communities and face particular ravages of nature, including flooding, coastal erosion, blizzards, severe storms and bitter cold,” said Jeffrey Osiensky, warning coordination meteorologist for the NOAA National Weather Service Alaska region. “StormReady arms communities with improved communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property, both before and during an event.”

For the first time, mushers will race through four trail communities carrying the StormReady distinction. Nine Alaskan communities are StormReady, and four of these have earned the TsunamiReady® distinctions. Eight more are expected to earn similar distinctions by the end of the year. The four newly designated StormReady communities along this year’s Iditarod trail are Anchorage, Wasilla, McGrath, and Nome.

Across the nation, there are more than 1,100 StormReady sites in 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Guam, and 39 TsunamiReady sites in nine states, Puerto Rico and Guam.

“Every year, around 500 Americans lose their lives to severe weather and floods,” said Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), director of the NOAA National Weather Service. “More than 10,000 thunderstorms, 2,500 floods and 1,000 tornadoes affect the United States annually, and hurricanes are a threat to the Gulf and East coasts. Potentially deadly weather can affect every person in the country. StormReady and TsunamiReady programs were developed for this reason.”

The nationwide community preparedness program helps communities develop plans to handle local severe weather and flooding threats. The program is voluntary and based on a partnership between local NOAA National Weather Service forecast offices and state and local emergency managers. StormReady began in 1999 with seven communities in the Tulsa, Okla., area. To be recognized as being StormReady and/or TsunamiReady, a community must:

  • Establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center;
  • Have more than one way to receive tsunami and severe weather warnings and forecasts to alert the public;
  • Create a system that monitors local weather conditions;
  • Promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars; and
  • Develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is celebrating 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Commission of Fish and Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA. NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA StormReady Program

NOAA National Weather Service Alaska Region

Media Contact:
Audrey Rubel, NOAA National Weather Service Alaska Region, (907) 271-4767