07-23-2018 - Village of Orland Park Again Named Storm Ready Community

07-23-2018 - Village of Orland Park Again Named Storm Ready Community
Posted on 07/23/2018

ORLAND PARK, IL (July 23, 2018) --- The Village of Orland Park has been re-certified as a StormReady Community by the National Weather Service, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

StormReady certification is granted to communities, counties, Indian nations, universities and colleges, military bases, government sites and other groups to ensure they are prepared to save lives from severe weather through advanced planning, education and awareness.

"Public safety during severe weather is always our primary concern,' said Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau. "A huge percentage of presidentially declared disasters are weather related and a community's preparation is paramount. Orland Park's re-certification is because of the efforts of the police department and we thank them for their work on the community's behalf.'

According to the National Weather Service, the StormReady Program encourages agencies to take a new, proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather conditions by giving emergency managers concise guidelines to improve their hazardous weather operations.

"StormReady communities have to meet a number of criteria to receive the certification,' said Trustee Pat Gira, chair of the village's Public Safety Committee. "Planning ahead and preparing the public are essential. Thank you to the Orland Park Police Department for earning this certification again for the village.'

StormReady communities are required to have 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 local weather conditions, promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars, and hold emergency exercises and develop a formal hazardous weather plan that includes training severe weather spotters.

"The Orland Park Police Department takes weather preparedness very seriously,' said Chief Tim McCarthy. "We have nearly 150 trained weather spotters at the police department. All of our officers, community service officers, dispatchers and the animal control officer are trained spotters as are all of our emergency services volunteers.'

Of Orland Park's recertification, National Weather Service Meteorologist Ben Deubelbeiss wrote, "Your leadership and the progressive preparedness measures taken by Orland Park continue to be outstanding. Since StormReady certification in July, 2015, Orland Park has continued to meet and exceed all of the requirements of the StormReady Program.'

The Village of Orland Park maintains 13 outdoor warning sirens that are activated if a tornado warning has been issued for the Orland Park area. A three to five minute steady blast means that the National Weather Service or a trained weather spotter has identified a tornado or an aloft funnel cloud within five miles of the village.

Five of the village's larger parks are equipped with lightning prediction systems that measure electrostatic charges at ground level and in the atmosphere. When lightning is within a 10-15 mile radius of the area, alarm horns and strobe lights are activated. Lightning detection systems are located at the John Humphrey Sports Complex, Centennial Park, Schussler Park, Veterans Park and Cachey Park.

"Orland Park is able to monitor the weather and receive advance warning through a number of outlets,' said Deputy Chief Joe Mitchell. "When inclement weather is predicted for the Orland Park area, both the Police and Public Works Departments are able to use a number of resources to be prepared for what's coming.'

A weather station is located on the roof of the Orland Park Police Station at 15100 South Ravinia Avenue. Five weather stations throughout the village enable the Orland Park Public Works Department to remotely monitor temperature, wind speed and direction, rainfall, humidity and barometer.

"A great way to stay on top of bad weather is to buy a weather radio,' said Orland Park Police Lieutenant Eric Rossi who oversaw the village's re-certification. "A weather radio can be programmed specifically for our area to let people know what watches or warnings have been issued for Orland Park.'

If the National Weather Service issues a severe weather warning for southern Cook County or northern Will County, Orland Park weather spotters are sent to areas outside of the village limits to watch for tornadoes.

"Weather spotters are trained to identify weather patterns and cloud conditions that could produce tornadoes,' the chief said.

The National Weather Service will issue a tornado watch if weather conditions could produce tornadoes. This encourages residents to be aware of the weather, monitoring the local media for further information. Watches are issued by the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center for counties where tornadoes may occur. The watch area is typically large, covering numerous counties or even states.

Deubelbeiss added, "Orland Park continues to maintain a 'prototype' severe weather preparedness program and is very deserving of this prestigious recognition.'