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The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has been recognized by the National Weather Service as a StormReady® university. UT Knoxville is the largest university in the state to achieve StormReady status.

“StormReady encourages communities to take a proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations and public awareness in partnership with their local National Weather Service office,” said George Mathews, meteorologist-in-charge of the National Weather Service Knoxville/Tri-Cities forecast office.

Mathews presented university officials with a recognition letter and special StormReady® signs during a ceremony on Friday, May 7, at the University of Tennessee Police Department.

To be recognized as StormReady, a community must establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center; have more than one way to receive severe weather forecasts and warnings and to alert the public; create a system that monitors local weather conditions; promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars; and develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.

The only other university in Tennessee to have this designation is Vanderbilt.

“One specific area of concern for anyone dealing with emergency management is always weather-related emergencies,” said UTPD Capt. Keith Lambert. “All of us have the potential to be impacted by a weather-related emergency, and it is critical that we have plans in place to respond to any type of weather-related emergency.”

UT currently has weather radios, access to Doppler radar and other monitoring equipment, such as river gauges. UT also has “weather spotters” trained by the weather service to identify dangerous weather conditions. There are weather monitoring radios at the UTPD, in administrative offices in Andy Holt Tower, and in several Student Affairs offices across campus. UT has designated emergency management plans that include call-in lists, emergency shelter locations and recovery processes.

The StormReady program is voluntary and provides communities with clear-cut advice from the local National Weather Service forecast office and state and local emergency managers. The program began in 1999 with seven communities in the Tulsa, Okla., area. Today, there are nearly 1,600 StormReady communities.

“The program is designed to help StormReady communities improve communication and safety skills needed to save lives — before, during and after a severe weather event,” said Tim Troutman, warning coordination meteorologist for the forecast office.

The StormReady® program is part of the National Weather Service’s working partnership with the International Association of Emergency Managers, and the National Emergency Management Association. The StormReady® recognitions expire in three years, after which the university will go through a renewal process.

For more information on the National Weather Service’s StormReady® program, visit

Pictured: Left to right: Vice Chancellor Chris Cimino, Sr. Associate Vice Chancellor Jeff Maples, UTPD Capt. Jeff Severs, Business Manager Brian Browning, UTPD Interim Chief Debbie Perry, UTPD Capt. Keith Lambert, and National Weather Service Meteorologist George Mathews.

C O N T A C T :

Keith Lambert, (865-974-6631,

Kristi Hintz, (865-974-3993,