Morgan Frisch/Recorder staff From left, Ray O’Keefe, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Albany office, Montgomery County Emergency Management Director Jeff Smith and Steve DiRienzo, meteorologist and warning coordinator for the National Weather Service, stand with the county’s new “StormReady” sign Thursday.
By MORGAN FRISCH
Recorder News Staff
FULTONVILLE — There could be a flood, high winds or inches of snow but Montgomery County will be prepared.
The National Weather Service recognized the county Thursday for being storm ready.
Montgomery County Emergency Management Director Jeff Smith accepted a StormReady sign from two Albany meteorologists at the Emergency Operations Center.
In order to receive the designation, counties must complete an application process and meet the qualifications. The qualifications range from establishing a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center to having more than one way to receive severe weather warnings and forecast alerts. The county must create a system that monitors local weather conditions and promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars and develop a formula hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.
Ray O’Keefe, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service in Albany, said the recognition is for Smith and his team for becoming storm ready.
“I know when severe weather does come Jeff’s on the phone to us and keeping us updated on what’s going on,” O’Keefe said.
He described when earlier this winter there was potential for flooding of the Mohawk River, how Smith was “right on top of it.”
“It’s being proactive, it’s being prepared and being ready, that’s what storm ready is about,” O’Keefe said.
Smith said his department has a great partnership with the National Weather Service, mentioning that they provide information on regular basis.
“Even if it’s two inches of a snow, we share with the public we share with our first responders and we share we with our school superintendents,” he said. “So we have a great relationship here in the country with using that information to try and help better prepare them and keep our first responders safe and keep things flowing smoothly.”
Steve DiRienzo meteorologist and warning coordinator for the National Weather Service out of Albany said “there is no such thing as storm proof”, but the goal of the program is keeping everyone on the same page.
Neighboring counties who are “StormReady” include: Schoharie, Albany and Otsego.
DiRienzo said the SUNY college system is working to have all their colleges storm weather ready as well.
“I live my life everyday now based on the weather radar, the slides and the information you provide to us,” Smith said. “It’s not just about forecasting, it’s about being a true partner,” he said. “ I consider you guys a member of our community.”
Smith said he’s proud to have this designation and he’s hopeful to order nine more signs to place at the main entrances of every state road that comes into the county.
County Executive Matthew Ossenfort gave “kudos” to Smith.
“It really shows the effort that has been made by our team to be prepared for emergencies and it’s nice to have these moments where you can stop and realize the progress that you’ve made,” Ossenfort said. “ But all the credit in the world really needs to go to Jeff.”
Smith also commented on Ossenfort and the legislators efforts.
“It’s very refreshing to realize you have a government entity like the county executive and the legislature that understand, recognize and support the concepts of how important it is to be prepared,” he said.