PEARL – The Forrest County School District is the first school district to earn the National Weather Service’s StormReady Supporter designation in Mississippi. A ceremony marking this achievement was held this afternoon at the Lowery Woodall Advanced Technology Center in Hattiesburg.

“Several schools have been impacted by tornadoes in the last 10 to 15 years in Mississippi, so it is very important for them to be prepared,” said NWS Jackson Meteorologist in Charge Alan Gerard. “We are very pleased that the Forrest County School District has led the way and encourage other school districts to pursue this designation.”

Mississippi has 26 counties, 16 communities, four state universities and five government/military sites designated as StormReady in Mississippi. There are also five StormReady supporters.

“I would like to congratulate Forrest County Schools on this designation,” said Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director Robert Latham. “As the February tornado outbreak showed, when our residents are better prepared, it significantly reduces the loss of life. There were no reported deaths as a result of the February tornadoes.”

StormReady is a nationwide program of the National Weather Service that helps communities protect their citizens during severe weather, and encourages communities to take a proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations.

The StormReady Supporter program is designed to encourage critical facilities to incorporate the principles of the StormReady Preparedness program.

The critical elements of the StormReady Supporter for Schools program are:

  • A close working relationship with the county Emergency Operations Center.
  • Multiple ways to receive severe weather information.
  • Multiple ways to disseminate the warnings within the school facilities, to buses, during athletic events, etc.
  • Effective sheltering plans for all schools during severe weather, which are exercised at least four times per year.

To learn more about the StormReady program visit