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National Weather Service

It's Official: Cal U is StormReady®

CALIFORNIA, PA (February 6, 2009)...After making their way through a morning snowstorm on Jan. 27, three meteorologists from the National Weather Service visited California University for a ceremony recognizing its status as a StormReady® University.

StormReady® is the National Weather Service's nationwide program to promote communication, planning and response to severe weather emergencies. Cal U is one of only two universities in Pennsylvania to achieve the designation.

To be StormReady, a university must meet preparedness criteria outlined by the National Weather Service and state and local emergency managers. The university must have a 24-hour warning and emergency operations center; more than one way to receive severe weather forecasts and to alert the public; a system that monitors local weather conditions; a plan to promote the importance of public readiness; and a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.

At the ceremony in the Cal U Weather Center, meteorologist-in-charge Christopher Strager presented President Angelo Armenti, Jr. with two StormReady signs and a certificate recognizing the University's status.

"Truly this is a testament to your commitment, and that of the staff, students and the university to keep everyone safe and prepared for all types of weather threats," Strager said.

Cal U is the first StormReady University within the area covered by the NWS office in Pittsburgh, he added.

Accompanying Strager were meteorologists Richard Kane and Rodney Smith. Kane started the application process with Cal U, and Smith performed the Site visit.

President Armenti praised Cal U students Amanda Smith and Kevin Lowrie, who interned at the National Weather Service and played a pivotal role in applying for the designation. Also recognized were Earth Sciences faculty members Drs. Chad Kauffman and Tom Mueller, former faculty member Jamie Mitchem, interim Cal U police chief Jim Hansen and Sharon Elkettani, Cal's director of environmental health and safety.

The President emphasized the Weather Center's key role in helping Cal U to meet the StormReady guidelines and noted that the GIS Club purchased weather radios that receive severe weather forecasts and warnings.

"There is an old saying: ‘Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.' At Cal U, that's not entirely true," President Armenti said. "Two of our students, and many other people on our campus, did do something about it. They believed that Cal U could play a role in keeping the people of southwestern Pennsylvania safer through planning, education and awareness - in short, by becoming ‘storm ready.'"

Speaking on behalf of the students, Smith described her desire to "make a difference."

"I am so proud to go to school here and work with such a dedicated group of students who are trying to make things better," she said. "Being named StormReady is a capstone to my internship."

Mueller also praised the students for their teamwork.

"Our students are amazing," he said. "This endeavor shows not only the excitement on campus from the students right to the administration but it talks about the unity of this university, working together doing what each of us can to get the job done."

Strager recalled a situation in Northwest Ohio last November when a StormReady alert enabled a movie theater filled with children and parents to be evacuated quickly. Minutes later, a tornado swept a vehicle into the theater's front row.

"Being StormReady can and does save lives," he said.