Friday, April 30, 2010

Tennessee Aquarium Earns NWS StormReady Supporter Designation

The Tennessee Aquarium is now StormReady. Left to right: Rodney Fuller, facilities manager, Tennessee Aquarium; Charlie Arant, president & CEO, Tennessee Aquarium; Tim Troutman, warning coordination meteorologist, NWS Morristown, TN; Don Allen, director, Hamilton County, TN Emergency Services

The Tennessee Aquarium has earned the StormReady Supporter designation from the National Weather Service (NWS), increasing safety for visitors and employees. “The StormReady Supporter program encourages businesses and organizations to take a proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations, severe weather safety and awareness," said George Mathews, meteorologist-in-charge of the NWS Forecast Office in Morristown, TN.

The Aquarium already had an extensive safety plan in place. As a StormReady Supporter, an added level of protection is offered to guests and staff. “Visitor and employee safety is our number one priority,” said Rodney Fuller, the Aquarium’s facilities manager. “We have grown over the years, so we wanted to expand our safety plan to include severe weather preparedness to cover everyone from school groups and passengers aboard the River Gorge Explorer to our biologists working on conservation projects in the field.”

To earn the StormReady Supporter designation, an organization must:
1. Have an established Warning Point during hours of operation. 2. Have at least two ways for the Warning Point to receive NWS warnings. 3. Have at least two ways to monitor hydrometeorological data (i.e., NOAA Weather Radio, TV, Internet, etc.). 4. Have at least two ways for the Warning Point to disseminate NWS warnings. 5. Participate by hosting at least one annual weather safety talk per year. 6. Work with county EMA to attend EMA sponsored storm spotter training biennially. 7. Work with county EMA to develop a formal hazardous weather operations plan. 8. Send a representative from StormReady Supporter institution to visit NWS office location biennially. 9. A representative from NWS visits StormReady Supporter institution's location biennially.

Nationally, there are 1,603 StormReady businesses and communities. The Tennessee Aquarium joins the Florida Aquarium and Sea World Orlando as the only aquariums in the nation that have earned the StormReady supporter designation. Other attractions that are StormReady include Disneyland, Disney World, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Talladega Speedway and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

In Tennessee, there are now 54 StormReady designations including UT Knoxville, Vanderbilt University and Hamilton County. “Hamilton County Emergency Services is now pleased to endorse the Tennessee Aquarium as a StormReady Supporter,” said Don Allen, director of Hamilton County Emergency Services. “Knowing that the Aquarium actively promotes severe weather safety awareness activities and has established severe weather safety plans means that not only are visitors to the Aquarium safer in the event of dangerous weather, but our community as a whole is safer and more StormReady.”

Did you know?
According to the National Weather Service, Americans live in the most severe weather-prone country on Earth. Each year, Americans cope with an average of 10,000 thunderstorms, 5,000 floods, 1,000 tornadoes, and an average of two deadly hurricanes.

The NWS says 90 percent of all presidentially declared disasters are weather related, leading to around 500 deaths per year and nearly $14 billion in damage.

The StormReady program started in 1999 in Tulsa, OK. Today there are 1,600 locations that have earned StormReady designations.

To learn more about the StormReady program go to: