NEWS | May 24, 2012

National Weather Service names Joint Base Charleston "Storm Ready"

By Tech. Sgt. Chrissy Best

Joint Base Charleston has the National Weather Service vote of confidence that the base is prepared should a major storm come our way.

Ron Morales Jr., a warning coordination meteorologist at the NWS office in Charleston, S.C., awarded the Storm Ready designation to JB Charleston May 22. JB Charleston is the 31st military base and the second joint base to be designated Storm Ready.

"They really did do a great job. In true military fashion, they got the job done quickly, efficiently and surpassed many of the guidelines," said Morales. "Certainly the most proactive and organized team I have worked with."

The Storm Ready designation began in 1999 with the intent to help ensure communities had the communication procedures and storm preparedness structure in place to respond to a weather related emergency. According to NWS statistics, 90 percent of all presidentially declared disasters are weather related, leading to nearly $14 billion in damages annually.

Military bases are qualifying communities. To be a Storm Ready community, an agency must fulfill six requirements:

· Have a 24-hour warning point or communication center as well as an Emergency Operations Center to alert personnel of the potential dangers from both natural and man-made hazards.

· The EOC and Warning Point must have multiple ways to receive and disseminate NWS warnings.

· There must be multiple methods in place to gather and/or monitor meteorological data.

· Have an active community preparedness program to educate personnel on how to recognize potentially threatening weather, and precautionary steps to take to protect themselves and/or their property.

· The agency needs a proactive administration that has a formal hazardous weather action plan in place.

"I feel that by receiving the Storm Ready certification, the base weather flight was able to show their capability to fulfill all the same aspects the NWS does for the installation," said Tech. Sgt. Gerald McPherson, 437th Operations Support Squadron, chief of the Weather flight.
"To be recognized as a Storm Ready community by an outside agency, like the NWS, validates all the hard work we have put into developing checklists and procedures," said Brian Dillo, 628th Air Base Wing Command Post.

It took a team of individuals to make JB Charleston Storm Ready. The team lead, Senior Airman Ross Kreikemeier, assigned to the 628th Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management flight, worked with McPerson and Dillo to ensure JB Charleston met all the Storm Ready community criteria.

The team worked together for five months to ensure JB Charleston met each of the six criteria categories in the second highest population category of the Storm Ready Community Program.

Not only did they ensure JB Charleston was able to meet the mandatory criteria, they carefully analyzed the installation's procedures and made improvements, ensuring the installation's ability to warn and give direction in severe weather situations. They established an invaluable working relationship with the Charleston NWS which will prove to be extremely beneficial during times of inclement weather.

"I had not heard of the Storm Ready program until I was asked in late December to research application requirements for our base," said Kreikemeier. "Surprisingly, I found out we already met most of the requirements."

Colonel Richard McComb, JB Charleston commander, presented the Storm Ready Team with a letter of appreciation and a JB Charleston command coin for their efforts. He also commended their dedication and commitment through the five-month rigorous process of meeting all the criteria categories and achieving this status.

The NWS also presented two Storm Ready signs and a plaque to JB Charleston to display for the next three years.

"I want to say congratulations to these guys," said McComb. "Thank you for getting us Storm Ready. It's a great accomplishment and a job well done."

Whether a hurricane, tornado, severe thunderstorm, winter storm or flood threatens the area, the personnel and residents of JB Charleston can be assured their EM flight, along with the NWS, are doing all they can to protect lives and property.