Southwick’s Emergency Management Director participating in Hurricane Awareness Tour

SOUTHWICK – Emergency Management Director Charlie Dunlap has been invited to the 2019 East Coast Hurricane Awareness Tour, which takes place May 6 at the Quonset State Airport in North Kingstown, R.I.

In conjunction with Hurricane Preparedness Week, May 5 to May 11, the National Weather Service is bringing this event to Southern New England for the first time since 2011.

Among other Emergency Management officials throughout New England, Dunlap will be given an exclusive tour of two aircrafts that are used to assist during various weather storms. The WC-130J, also known as “Hercules”, is a medium range aircraft that was made to penetrate tropical storms, hurricanes, and winter storms. The WP-3D Orion, also known as the “Hurricane Hunter”, is an aircraft that conducts low-altitude data to help with what isn’t available from ground-based radar or satellite imagery for looking at hurricanes.

Emergency Management Director Charlie Dunlap. (WNG File Photo)

This is the first time he’s been invited to this event and Dunlap is looking forward to the benefits he will receive from the experience.

“It’s quite an honor,” said Dunlap. “It gives me a little bit more insight on hurricane causes and effects.”

After emergency management officials are given a tour of the aircrafts in the morning, the event will be open to the public in the afternoon. National Hurricane Director Ken Graham and Hurricane Specialist Daniel Brown will be in attendance to educate the public about hurricane preparedness.

There will also be representatives of the United States Air Force, National Weather Service Prediction Center, Boston Norton Weather Forecast office, Rhode Island Emergency Management, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), the American Red Cross, and among others.

Dunlap noted that the event being open to the public is a great opportunity.

“I feel that it’s additional training that the community can benefit (from),” said Dunlap. “To be able to understand the determining factors of hurricanes, it increases your knowledge.”

Southwick is one of 17 communities in Massachusetts that’s a storm-ready community. A storm ready community is a government entity or commercial gathering site that prepares for severe storms. A voluntary program, storm-ready communities can be recognized by the National Weather Service if they demonstrate severe weather readiness.

In order to become a storm-ready community, a municipality has to establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center. Communities must also have communications systems to receive severe weather forecasts and create a system to look at local weather conditions. Storm-communities also need to promote the significance of public readiness through seminars and also organize a formal hazardous weather plan.

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