Washtenaw County received the StormReady designation from the National Weather Service in 2001, and has since maintained that status. StormReady is a nationwide community preparedness program that uses a grassroots approach to help communities develop plans to handle all types of severe weather from tornadoes to tsunamis. 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.
Each bullet below is a StormReady criteria, each line under the bullet indicates how Washtenaw County met the criteria:
- Establish a 24-hour warning point and Emergency Operations Center
- The 24-hour warning point established is the Washtenaw County Emergency Communications Center, located in the Emergency Services Division offices on the lower level of the Sheriff headquarters building.
- The emergency operations center established is the Washtenaw County Emergency Operations Center, located in the Emergency Services Division offices on the lower level of the Sheriff headquarters building.
- Have at least three methods to receive severe weather warnings and forecasts
- National Weather Service satellite Weatherwire system is installed in the Emergency Communications Center.
- Emergency Alert System decoder is installed in the Emergency Communications Center.
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio with SAME decoder is installed in the Emergency Communications Center.
- Emergency Services Division staff receive text messages about all weather bulletins.
- Emergency Services Division staff receive email messages about all weather bulletins.
- The Law Enforcement Information Network terminals in the county's 911 Center receive all severe weather bulletins for lower Michigan.
- The EMWIN weather data stream is accessible as a backup through internet connections in the Emergency Communications Center.
- Establish numerous methods of disseminating severe weather warnings to the general public
- The Emergency Alert System encoder installed in the Emergency Communications Center will be activated to quickly notify all local broadcast stations about severe weather watches and warnings.
- The Quick-Call radio system, with 160 receivers located in key facilities throughout the county, will be activated.
- Outdoor warning sirens located in Ann Arbor Township, Augusta Township, Dexter Township, Lima Township, Lodi Township, Northfield Township, Pittsfield Township, Salem Township, Scio Township, Superior Township, Ypsilanti Township, York Township, Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Dexter, Manchester, Milan, Saline, and Ypsilanti will be activated for all Tornado Warnings and severe thunderstorms with damaging winds of 75 MPH or greater.
- County-wide public safety radio broadcasts will be issued for all watches and warnings.
- A broadcast on the county's Amateur Radio Skywarn repeater will be issued.
- All key Public Safety personnel will receive text messages about severe weather bulletins.
- All county government personnel, key public safety personnel, and volunteers will receive severe weather bulletins via group email list supported by Washtenaw County Government and 3rd party internet servers.
- Create a system that monitors weather conditions locally
- A satellite linked NOAAport processor for the real-time display of Doppler radar images, infrared satellite images, and convective weather risk maps. The Director and Planning Coordinator utilize subscription-based services to monitor conditions at home or from the field. Radar imagery is also displayed in the Emergency Operations Center and the in county's 911 Center.
- A Texas Weather Instruments industrial grade weather station is installed in the Emergency Communications Center. Temperature, humidity, wind speed/direction, barometric pressure, precipitation and cloud-to-ground lightning strikes are monitored and displayed in both the Emergency Communications Center and the Emergency Operations Center.
- Promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars
- Two Skywarn Spotter trainings are held every year. During the 2018-2019 training cycle, the classes were attended by 454 citizens, public safety personnel, and Amateur Radio Operators.
- Several severe weather preparedness presentations are held annually. Organizations include local service clubs, colleges, scouting and community watch groups.
- The division is interviewed by numerous radio, television and newspaper organizations for severe weather, winter weather and flooding awareness campaigns.
- Pre- and post-significant severe weather event information briefings are aired on radio and television stations, and follow-up articles are often written by the MLive Media Group.
- Develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training spotters and holding emergency exercises
- Washtenaw County's formal hazardous weather plan is the Emergency Services Division Severe Weather Protocol, which is updated annually.
- The Washtenaw County Emergency Action Guidelines are the primary disaster management plan, and include training procedures and disaster exercise plans.
- To learn more about the technical requirements that we had to meet, please visit the national StormReady website.