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1.5.12 National Weather Service Names Howard County “StormReady®” Community

January 5, 2012

Media Contact:
Kevin Enright, Director, Office of Public Information, 410-313-2022

National Weather Service Names Howard County “StormReady ®” Community

New “NotifyMeHoward” system helps earn designation


ELLICOTT CITY, MD – County Executive Ken Ulman has announced that the National Weather Service (NWS) recently named Howard County a StormReady® community, thanks in part to the County’s new NotifyMeHoward system. NotifyMeHoward was officially launched in mid-November as a free enhanced notification system capable of delivering a wide variety of valuable information, like weather alerts, directly to the inbox or mobile device of subscribers.

In addition to getting out weather warnings to the public, communities with StormReady® designations must have a 24-hour “warning point” to receive NWS information and provide local reports and advice on weather conditions. They must also have an Emergency Operations Center (EOC), approved hazardous weather action plan and the ability to staff the EOC when hazardous weather events occur. StormReady® communities must conduct an annual exercise related to a natural hazard and host an annual NWS storm spotter training session.

“Public notification is one of the vital components of the ‘StormReady®’ Program,” said County Executive Ulman. “NotifyMeHoward helped us earn the designation because it gives us the ability to get critical information about potentially dangerous weather situations to the public quickly so they can take the steps they need to keep themselves and their families safe.”

NotifyMeHoward is also capable of delivering emergency alert notifications directly to the landlines of most Howard County homes and businesses whether they have subscribed to the service or not. Testing on that part of the system will begin during the second week of January and target homes in the Allview/Arrowhead community where flooding has been an issue in the past.

“We need to test just how effectively the landline notification works. If severe flooding occurs because of a weather incident like Tropical Storm Lee last summer, we may need to get critical information to as many residents as we can and as quickly as we can,” said Deputy Director of Emergency Management Ryan Miller. “NotifyMeHoward is the most effective way to do that.”

NotifyMeHoward also gives subscribers the opportunity to select the types of alerts and information they want to receive. Subscribers to NotifyMeHoward can build their own menu of “alerts” from a wide range of topics including up-to-the-minute news and information about Howard County Government. Those topics include information on special events, cancellations and closings, volunteer opportunities for the Department of Recreation & Parks, upcoming flu clinics or bulletins from the Health Department, information about upcoming road projects from the Department of Public Works, and alerts about potential scams or fraudulent activities from the Office of Consumer Affairs.

Subscribers can also get e-newsletters and news about classes and events from the Howard County Library, information and updates regarding parenting and child care issues from the Office of Children’s Resources, and information for older adults and caregivers from the Office on Aging.

To sign up for NotifyMeHoward, visit www.notifymehoward.org and click “Sign Me Up” near the bottom of the page or the frequently asked questions (FAQ) tab. Subscribers may also sign up through rapid enrollment by texting HOWARD to 411911; subscribers who use rapid enrollment will get tornado warnings and anything else sent to "All Subscribers.”