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May 10, 2010

NWS: ULM is “leading the pack” with “StormReady” designation

The National Weather Service officially announced on Monday that the University of Louisiana at Monroe has met NWS criteria for the reception and dissemination of emergency weather information and preparedness activities.

Being a StormReady® University means ULM is the first campus in the state to take the initiative to ensure its faculty, students, and infrastructure are prepared to deal with deadly and destructive severe weather events.

“One of the things we are here to do is make history,” said Armando L. Garza, meteorologist in charge of the Weather Forecast Office in Shreveport. “It’s a big achievement … you all are leading the pack.”

ULM is designated StormReady® through 2013.

“It seems fitting we are doing this because we offer the only atmospheric sciences program in the state,” said Eric Pani, associate provost and vice president of academic affairs at ULM. “I’m really pleased to see this happen.”

Warning Coordination Meteorologist Keith Stellman, who earned his bachelor’s of science degree in atmospheric sciences from ULM in 1996, recently returned to his alma mater to conduct training for ULM Police Chief Larry Ellerman and other officers.

Stellman explained that StormReady, a voluntary program, was started by the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Tulsa on the late 1990s to educate communities about storm safety. It is expanding nationwide in an effort to spread information about severe weather preparedness and what to do when severe weather strikes.

The criteria includes such things as having a 24-hour Warning Point and/or Emergency Operations Center, placing weather radios in all locally owned government facilities, and maintaining NWS trained spotter networks.
Ellerman spearheaded the recognition effort on behalf of ULM.

“This partnership with the NWS represents our efforts to serve the ULM community and ensure its safety,” said Ellerman. “We’re excited to be the first school in Louisiana to receive this designation and look forward to working with the NWS in the future.”

“Thank you to our students who are here today; this is for you as well because you never know when severe weather is going to happen,” said Pani, before reflecting a moment, then adding with a smile, “Wait, our people are now storm spotter ready, so they will know!”

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