We’re still a few months away from Hurricane season, but preparation for storms is always ongoing at Walt Disney World. Disney has a “Hurricane Policy” (not yet updated for 2009) for their Magic Your Way Guests whose vacation might be affected by a severe storm, but what else do they do?
With picture-perfect skies outside his window most days, Walt Disney World Emergency Operations Coordinator Eric Alberts dedicates his time to preparing for inclement weather. “Safety for everybody that works or stays here is our top priority,” Alberts says as he checks the latest forecasts.
By expertly planning for severe weather in advance, Walt Disney World Resort made history in 2006 as the first theme park and resort area to be recognized by the National Weather Service as a StormReady® Community. Committed to maintaining its leadership in emergency management, Walt Disney World Resort just renewed its StormReady status through 2012 and remains the only recognized commercial site in Florida. Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Ca. has also earned recognition as StormReady.
“Disney’s weather operations are first-class and incredibly impressive,” says National Weather Service Warning Coordinator Meteorologist Scott Spratt, who evaluated Walt Disney World’s emergency readiness earlier this year to guarantee its standing as StormReady. According to Spratt, “We deal most often with emergency management on the county level and Disney’s practices are certainly on par with and exceed their high standards.”
The National Weather Service’s StormReady program was developed in 1999 to help prepare cities, counties and towns across the nation by setting standards for emergency communication and safety tools. The program’s top goal is to prepare communities with an action plan that responds to all types of severe weather threats.
“StormReady recognition puts us on the same page as the cities and counties around us,” explains Alberts. “We are evaluated on the same criteria as those communities, which is important since we continually partner and communicate with local, state, and federal agencies to coordinate our planning and response. It ensures we are doing the right thing.”
In order to be recognized as StormReady, a community must:
- Establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center.
- Have multiple ways 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.
- Develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.
There are currently 1423 StormReady sites in United States, Puerto Rico & Guam. More information on StormReady can be found at http://www.stormready.noaa.gov/.