Texas Sea Grant Supports National Severe Weather Preparedness Week March 2-8, 2014

February 27, 2014

By Heather Wade

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The Texas Sea Grant College Program at TexasA&M University is proud to support National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, March 2-8, 2014. Sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Severe Weather Preparedness Week is a nationwide effort designed to increase awareness of the severe weather that affects everyone and to encourage individuals, families businesses and communities to know their risk, take action, and be an example.

“Texas Sea Grant and its Coastal Planning Program have been recognized as Weather-Ready Ambassadors,” said Heather Wade, Texas Sea Grant’s Coastal Planning Specialist. “We are working with NOAA to help communities prepare for and become more resilient to extreme weather events. Texas coastal communities are very vulnerable to extreme weather and are becoming more so every day, so it is imperative that we act now to help our communities become weather-ready and resilient.”

Being prepared to act quickly can be a matter of survival. This is especially evident during the threat of severe weather. The Moore Oklahoma ESF 5 tornado is estimated to have caused approximately $2 billion in property damage. In the single month of November 2013, at least 70 tornadoes spanned seven Midwestern states.

Severe weather could happen at any time, anywhere. Even though the Oklahoma tornado outbreak was forecasted for days in advance, and warning lead times for the tornado outbreak averaged nearly 20 minutes, there were still many people in the damaged areas who stated that they were unprepared.

Knowing your risk of severe weather, taking action and being an example are just a few steps you can take to be better prepared to save your life and assist in saving the lives of others.

“In multiple ways through multiple programs, Texas Sea Grant is helping coastal communities prepare for severe weather,” Wade said. “We have worked with the Texas General Land Office to produce the Texas Homeowners Guide to Coastal Hazards. We also have several trained facilitators to help communities assess their risk to extreme weather events through the Coastal Resilience Index, and our Coastal Planning Program is working with communities to incorporate planning for hazards and extreme weather into municipal and county planning processes such as comprehensive plans, hazard mitigation plans, and emergency management plans.”

Know Your Risk: The first step to becoming weather-ready is to understand the type of hazardous weather that can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could impact you and your family. Check the weather forecast regularly, obtain a NOAA Weather Radio, and learn about Wireless Emergency Alerts. Severe weather comes in many forms, and your shelter plan should include all types of local hazards.

Take Action: Before storms strike, develop a family communication plan, create or purchase an emergency supplies kit, and participate in a local event on April 30 through America’s PrepareAthon (http://www.fema.gov/americas-prepareathon).

Be an Example: Share your preparedness story with your friends and family on Facebook and Twitter. Letting others know that you’re prepared will prompt them to prepare as well. Studies show that many people use social media in the event of a disaster to let relatives and friends know they are safe. This is an important trend because people are most likely to take preparedness steps if they observe the preparations taken by others. Social media provides the perfect platform to model preparedness actions for others.

Being weather-ready is a collective effort. It takes the whole community to effectively prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate against damages caused by tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and other severe weather.

Texas Sea Grant is proud to support the goals of National Severe Weather Preparedness Week. By preparing our communities, we are able to build a Weather-Ready Nation — one that is resilient in the face of extreme weather.

Learn more at www.weather.gov and www.ready.gov/severe-weather or the Spanish-language web site www.listo.gov. Follow the National Weather Service @nws and FEMA @readygov on Twitter.

-30-

Texas Sea Grant is a unique partnership that unites the resources of the federal government, the State of Texas and universities across the state to create knowledge, tools, products and services that benefit the economy, the environment and the citizens of Texas. It is administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is one of 33 university-based Sea Grant Programs around the country. Texas Sea Grant is a non-academic research center in the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University. The program’s mission is to improve the understanding, wise use and stewardship of Texas coastal and marine resources.