2:00pm

Tue June 7, 2011
Eastern and Central Kentucky

Buckhorn Lake Judged Storm Ready

Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park became only the fourth park in the Kentucky State Resort Park system to be a StormReady supporter. In addition to the state designation, the park and resort at Buckhorn Lake is only the fourth state park in the entire United States to get that designation by the National Weather Service. Officials of Buckhorn Lake, the Kentucky Department of Parks and the National Weather Service Office in Jackson were on hand at the park's Conference Center on Friday to make the presentation and present the plaque.

“I'm excited and pleased that our state has taken the steps to let us step up and take the training, and that our employees were willing and ready to do all they can to help,” said Greta Reynolds, who's the manager of Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park, which is located at Buckhorn in Perry County, near the Breathitt County line.

Reynolds told the Times-Voice in an interview Monday that the designation is more than just hanging a plaque on the wall.

“As you're aware, the weather here can change at the drop of a hat. We've already had to evacuate the area because of a tornado warning this year, and anytime we have such a warning we now have a designated tornado shelter in our lodge. We also have our staff trained to handle these emergencies, and we have signs throughout the park letting them know where to go and what to do in case of a tornado warning, a severe thunderstorm warning, a flash flood warning, and other weather emergencies.”

With the StormReady designation, Reynolds pointed out that signs with instructions on what visitors need to do in severe weather are posted not just in the lodge and guest rooms, but in the park's cabins, picnic shelters, the marina and beach, and other places where the public gathers.

Started in 1999 in Tulsa, Okla., the StormReady program helps to arm communities with communications and safety skills needed to save lives and property, before and during a severe weather event. Through advanced planning, education and awareness, those communities and places affiliated with the StormReady program are better prepared to save those lives from the onslaught of severe weather as a result.

“We started the StormReady program for Eastern Kentucky in the early 2000s, with Floyd County becoming the first “StormReady” supporter. Since then, Breathitt County and 12 other mountain counties have joined, with about four or five more planning on becoming one as well,” said Jim Maczko, who's the Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the NWS in Jackson. “Since the program's been implemented, I can tell a big difference with those counties that are Storm Ready. They not only get the word out on severe weather warnings, they engage the people in the communities to be weather alert through education safety and preparedness programs. As technology increases and improves, those counties that want to be StormReady will join once they first determine the logistics involved, like how big is their county, how many schools are in the county, and how many shelters they'll need. As a result, it's a longer process to become StormReady, but it's well worth it.”

Buckhorn Lake now joins three other Kentucky State Resort Parks – Natural Bridge State Resort Park near Slade in Powell County; Lake Cumberland State Resort Park near Jamestown in Russell County, and Dale Hollow State Resort Park near Burkesville in Cumberland County - as StormReady supporters in Kentucky and the entire nation. For more information, you can log on to the NWS Jackson website at www.weather.gov/jkl.

“Kentucky is unique because the state as a whole is in the process of converting all their state resort parks as a StormReady supporter. We've had training sessions all over the state with park management and personnel the last couple of years. Now, each park has to put their local plan into effect,” said Shawn Harley, who's the Meteorologist-In-Charge of the National Weather Service forecast office in Jackson. “It means the rest of the nation is looking toward Kentucky on this, and we're proud to be a part of this process.”