Forsyth County has been re-recognized by the National Weather Service (NWS) as a StormReady Community due to the county’s high level of severe weather preparedness.
The county first received the honor in 2007 and is one of 94 Georgia counties to have earned this distinction.
“The achievement means that the National Weather Service and the Georgia StormReady Advisory Board believe that Forsyth County has achieved and maintains a high level of severe weather readiness,” Forsyth County Emergency Management Agency Deputy Director Chris Grimes said. “We are proud that we have maintained the certification since 2007 and look forward to continuing the certification in the future.”
A community must meet a number of criteria established jointly by the NWS and local and state emergency officials to be recognized as StormReady, including having a local 24-hour warning point, an emergency operations center and more than one method of receiving severe weather warnings and alerting the public.
In the StormReady community warning system, NWS issues the warnings, local emergency management ensures the warnings are communicated and the general public responds properly to what is being advised.
Since Forsyth County’s original certification, additional measures have been taken to prepare the community for severe weather and to strengthen the local warning system.
“Since 2007, we have added five additional outdoor severe weather sirens, bringing the total number of county sirens to 17,” Grimes said.
“We have also conducted exercises in our emergency operations center to better prepare the county as well as our partners for responding to potential severe weather events.”
These sirens began to be used in 2009 to alert those who are outdoors if a tornado warning has been issued for the area.
The Forsyth County Emergency Management Agency also began offering weather alert notifications in 2011, and earlier this year transitioned to an enhanced and more user-friendly alert system.
As a result of the new system, residents can sign up to receive time-sensitive phone call, text message or email alerts for severe thunderstorm warnings, flash flood warnings, tornado warnings, public safety issues and water notifications from the Forsyth County Water and Sewer Department.
“Several years ago, the National Weather Service began issuing tornado, severe thunderstorm and flash flood warnings based on specific polygons instead of a whole county, so that system could take that polygon and alert only those within that polygon,” Grimes said. “The [new] alert system allows individuals to elect to receive the notifications via email, telephone call and/or text message.”
To learn more about the Forsyth County severe weather alert system or the StormReady designation, contact the Forsyth County Emergency Management Agency office at (770) 205-5674.