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College Gains StormReady Status from National Weather Service

SUNY Plattsburgh has gained certification as a National Weather Service StormReady university, a designation that relates to planning and procedures the college has developed to handle extreme weather events.

“It shows the commitment of the college to be prepared for any hazard,” said Michael Caraballo, emergency management director at SUNY Plattsburgh. 

“It kind of benchmarks us with other schools that have the StormReady certification, and it shows we have a level of awareness to our emergencies and that we are planning for them.”

SUNY Plattsburgh is just one of six universities in New York state to gain the designation. The others are Cornell, University of Rochester, SUNY Oneonta, SUNY Upstate, and Binghamton University.

“We’re very fortunate to have SUNY Plattsburgh on the team and hopefully we will never have to use it (emergency weather event plan) in a weather or other emergency situation,” said Scott Whittier, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Burlington, Vt., office.

The National Weather Service started the StormReady program in 1999. Criteria for qualification include up-to-standard procedures in the areas of communication, water monitoring, local warning dissemination, community preparedness and administration.

As part of the application process, Caraballo said the campus had to show it has a 24-hour designated watch center, the University Police station, in which workers would be alerted of any extreme weather activity and that there are a sufficient number of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radios throughout campus, among other measures.

Gathering materials for the StormReady certification also helps Caraballo and other college officials plan for emergencies where weather isn’t a factor since there is some overlap in procedure for emergency situations even if they are drastically different, he said.

Select parts of a weather emergency preparedness plan, like communication among college departments before, during and after a severe weather event, can be related to an emergency response plan for events like an active shooter on campus or a chemical spill from a train crash, for instance, Whittier said.

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