Benton County designated as ‘StormReady’ by the National Weather Service

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CAMDEN, Tenn. (WKRN) – Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service recognized Benton County, Tenn. as being “StormReady.”

Gary Woodall from the National Weather Service in Memphis presented County Mayor Brett Lashlee and many local National Weather Service trained storm spotters with a plaque officially confirming this designation.

Benton County Mayor Brett Lashlee (left) and Gary Woodall (right) from the Memphis office of the National Weather Service.
Photo Courtesy of Bobby Melton and WRJB/WFWL radio
National Weather Service trained Storm Spotters
Photo Courtesy of Bobby Melton and WRJB/WFWL radio

“This is really a great day for the National Weather Service, as well as for Benton County, with the completion of the Storm Ready recognition process,” explained Gary Woodall with the Memphis office of the National Weather Service. “It really gives us a lot of confidence and really reassurance from the National Weather Service point of view that, we know that when storms come through and threaten Benton County, we know that thanks to Mayor Lashlee, Ben, and the leadership here in the county, that they’re prepared as they can be.”

For a county, business, building, or organization to be designated “StormReady” they must have provided emergency managers with clear-cut guidelines on how to improve their hazardous weather operations. To be officially StormReady, a community must:

  • Establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center
  • Have more than one way to receive severe weather warnings and forecasts and to alert the public
  • Create a system that monitors weather conditions locally
  • Promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars
  • Develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.

And with the Memphis National Weather Service office issuing the warnings for Benton County, but the Nashville television market covering them, County Mayor Brett Lashlee wanted to make sure they were not forgotten in the media coverage of storms.

“We went to the Severe Weather Alert media day in Nashville. And our whole problem, to bring our concern to the Nashville media so that they watch us a little closer, they paid attention to the alerts coming out of the Memphis offices, and they just reported back to our citizenry.”

At that meeting, Mayor Lashlee personally met with News 2 Chief Meteorologist Danielle Breezy and Meteorologist Davis Nolan to talk about the issue.

Breezy and Nolan both covered the March 2020 tornado that caused major damage and produced one fatality in Benton County.

Local storm spotter Ben Richardson saw the need for both the spotter program and the Storm Ready designation. “I seen the need for some kind of spotter program and some kind of warning system,” Richardson said. “Because accuracy is everything with the National Weather Service. So I approached the mayor (Brett Lashlee), he agreed with our findings, and he gave the green light to run with it.”

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