StormReady Certification Highlights Texas State Aquarium’s Weather Preparedness
November 20, 2019
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX – When Hurricane Harvey made landfall near Corpus Christi in 2017, the Texas State Aquarium was hit with 100-mph winds, torrential rainfall and flooding throughout the North Beach area. But thanks to the Aquarium’s sturdy construction and a carefully laid-out and executed plan by Aquarium staff, the building stood strong and animals and staff remained safe throughout the storm. Damage to the facility was so minimal that the Aquarium was able to open just a few days after Harvey passed, becoming an early symbol of recovery in the Coastal Bend.
Now the plan and efforts that helped the Aquarium survive and thrive throughout Harvey and similar inclement weather situations has been recognized with a StormReady Supporter certification from the National Weather Service (NWS), making the Aquarium one of about 60 StormReady-certified sites in Texas.
To become a StormReady Supporter site, the location must have, among other features, a severe weather warning reception, communication systems to relay warnings on site, a hazardous weather response plan, on-site shelter locations and preparedness activities.
NWS officials said they were impressed by the Aquarium’s hazard weather response plan, which includes NOAA Weather Radio receivers installed throughout the facility and a well-organized plan to notify and shelter employees, guests and animals in the event hazardous weather threatens their location.
The Aquarium also monitors incoming weather through a specialty forecasting service and stays in close contact with local resources like the City of Corpus Christi’s Emergency Management office. This allows the Aquarium to keep an eye on developing storms and act well in advance, as they did for Harvey. If needed, staff and guests can be notified immediately of incoming weather via radio or a PA system. The Aquarium also stays ready for the next incident with a hurricane plan that is updated every year and a continually-revised Aquarium weather policy.
The Aquarium’s building, which is rated for Category 5 storms, also provides several locations where staff and guests can shelter from storms. During Hurricane Harvey, these areas provided a safe location for both staff and animals to ride out the storm.
Aquarium officials are honored by the StormReady certification and hope it further demonstrates their ongoing commitment to protecting their staff, guests, volunteers and animals from any hazardous weather scenarios.
For more information on the Aquarium’s StormReady certification, contact Jesse Gilbert, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Texas State Aquarium at 361-881-1215, or visit weather.gov/stormready/supporters.