December 1, 2015

Cornell Receives ‘StormReady’ Award

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The National Weather Service officially recognized Cornell as a “StormReady” university Tuesday for its commitment to hazardous weather preparedness.

Binghamton meteorologist Katherine Hawley presents Cornell with the National Weather Service’s StormReady award. (Michaela Brew / Sun Sports Photography Editor)

Binghamton meteorologist Katherine Hawley presents Cornell with the National Weather Service’s StormReady award. (Michaela Brew / Sun Sports Photography Editor)

StormReady is a program by the National Weather Service that helps better prepare community members and leaders for weather-related emergencies. To be recognized as StormReady, a university must maintain a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center, be able to monitor local weather and flood conditions and conduct preparedness programs, among several other requirements.

During the recognition ceremony, Katherine Hawley, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service forecast office in Binghamton, New York, presented Cornell with its StormReady certificate.

“This is a very important accomplishment for Cornell University,” Hawley said in a National Weather Service press release. “The Ithaca area has a long history of severe weather, snowstorms, floods and even a few tornadoes. Cornell has taken all the necessary steps to be better prepared for whatever Mother Nature has in store. These efforts will no doubt make the University safer and even save lives in the future.”

Cornell’s partnership with the National Weather Service will supplement the emergency measures already in put in place by the Cornell Department of Environmental Health and Safety.

“A lot of things that go into being StormReady are part of our comprehensive emergency management program,” said Dan Maas, emergency manager of EHS in an interview with The Sun.

“It is a collaborative group effort across many campus departments,” Maas said. “Everyone plays an active role in preparing Cornell for weather related hazards and help monitor, evaluate, and respond to serious weather events.”

The Cornell Police said it is responsible for monitoring the impact the weather is having on campus and the emergency notification process.

“Part of our process is consulting with the office of emergency management,” said CUPD Deputy Chief David M. Honan. “Our officers are out there 24/7 and our communications center is always staffed on campus to give reports on inclement weather. We forward that information to the larger group to make decisions about needed actions and how the University will respond.”

Infrastructure Properties and Planning evaluates the weather events and makes decisions about changes to the campus operations depending on the potential impacts. Facilities Management and the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences provide some of the weather monitoring tools, according to Maas.

Students have been actively involved in this process through the Cornell chapter of the American Meteorological Society. Carolina Bieri ’16, co-president of the chapter, said the club has been mostly involved with community outreach.

“We help out with some of the outreach to the local community and to the student body,” Bieri said. “We’ve done tabling at grocery stores to teach the locals about flood safety. We also post reminders about staying safe during the winter season for students on Facebook.”

Representatives from the Department of Environmental Health and Safety, Infrastructure Properties and Planning, Facilities Management, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell Police, University Communications and the Cornell chapter of the American Meteorological Society were also present at the ceremony.

The StormReady certificate is valid for three years and can be renewed at the end of the term.

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