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Tooele is first in Utah called 'StormReady'

Program teaches skills to protect against hazardous weather

TOOELE — Tooele County has become Utah's first "StormReady" location by specially preparing to inform and protect its residents from hazardous weather.

A presentation by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service office in Salt Lake was made Tuesday at the Tooele County Courthouse to commend the county for its efforts.

Thus far, 620 communities in 46 states have become part of the NOAA program, which gives communities the skills and education to deal with severe weather — before and during the event. It also means a community is set up to receive life-saving NOAA warnings in the quickest possible time.

Larry Dunn, meteorologist in charge of the Salt Lake office of the National Weather Service, said Tooele County gets its share of severe weather — potential flash flooding in summer months and lake-effect snow in the winter.

The StormReady certification for Tooele County will be in effect until the summer of 2006.

More than 40,000 people live in Tooele County. They, along with those who travel through the area, will benefit from the program.

Dunn said the StormReady program helped save dozen of lives last year in Van Wert, Ohio, when a tornado devastated part of the town. Because of special warnings through the StormReady program, a movie theater manager was able to usher 50 moviegoers to safety before the tornado destroyed the building.

Dave Toronto, warning coordination meteorologist at the Salt Lake office of the National Weather Service, said StormReady is a great example of federal, state and local governments working together to prepare counties and communities for all kinds of severe weather.

NOAA weather radio receivers have been placed in public access buildings, emergency communication centers and some individual residences throughout the county.

More information on the StormReady program is available online at: www.stormready.noaa.gov.