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BU Earns StormReady Status

Weather warning system saves lives

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Stephen Morash (left), director of emergency response planning, Peter Fiedler, vice president for administrative services, and Thea Ivester, a senior specialist in emergency response planning, hold a plaque advertising BU as a StormReady community. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

In April BU became the second university in the state (Harvard is the other) to be certified by the National Weather Service as StormReady, meaning that it has the equipment and systems in place to receive national weather warnings and pass them along to the University community.

The achievement was formally recognized by the NWS at a ceremony at One Silber Way in June. Stephen Morash, director of emergency response planning, Thea Ivester, a senior specialist in emergency response planning, and Peter Fiedler (COM’77), vice president for administrative services, received certificates for their efforts in preparing BU.

“It’s always been a goal to get this done and make the University StormReady,” says Morash. “It’s important to note that this is something we didn’t do on our own.” He credits Fiedler and Gary Nicksa, vice president for operations, for their help.

The National Weather Service established the StormReady program in 1999 to forge partnerships with counties, communities, commercial sites, and private industries interested in notifying residents of natural disasters. Partners’ readiness is reevaluated every three years.

To qualify for the program, the University had to demonstrate preparedness in six areas: communication and coordination, NWS warning reception, weather monitoring systems, warning dissemination, community preparedness, and administrative oversight.

Hayden Frank, a NWS meteorologist, says BU’s emergency response plan exceeded criteria. “We like it when people are proactive and want to do the best they can to protect a community,” Frank says.

Among the things that influenced the decision are the University’s alert system, which sends text, voice, and e-mail messages to 40,000 students, faculty, and staff; lightning detectors that spot bolts and predict where they could next strike; and the designated responsibility of several officials (including Fiedler) to monitor National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radios.

At the ceremony, Robert Thompson, meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Taunton, Mass., cited several incidences where a community’s StormReady system saved lives.

Leslie Friday can be reached at lfriday@bu.edu; follow her on Twitter at @lesliefriday.

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