Grand Teton National Park is First to Reach StormReady Status

Thunderstorm Over the Tetons
Thunderstorm Over the Tetons

 

Birds are singing and the sun is shining its rays through a cloud spotted sky. A light breeze rustles the leaves of Aspen trees and the temperature drops a few degrees. Dark gray clouds are forming over the Tetons and almost instantaneously the light breeze turns into gusts of wind. Large raindrops begin to splash over the valley, appearing like curtains being drawn from the sky to the earth. The rumble of thunder echoes over Jackson Hole and flashes of lightning begin to appear. A thunderstorm is orchestrating and Grand Teton National Park has front row seats.

Weather changes like this are quite frequent in the Park this time of year. One moment the skies are clear, the next hail greets us from dark clouds. Grand Teton National Park is StormReady, with enhanced communication capabilities to ensure weather warnings and other emergency information is received and disseminated efficiently to park employees, concession operations, and visitors within the park.

“The StormReady designation also represents a stronger partnership with the National Weather Service (NWS) as we now have multiple ways to provide feedback to the forecasters and communicate with NWS staff, including information on current weather conditions in Grand Teton National Park,” said Heather Voster, Senior All-Risk Dispatcher for the National Park Service.

A rigorous set of criteria must be met to obtain StormReady status. Requirements include:

  • Establishing a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center
  • Having more than one way to receive severe weather warnings and forecasts
  • Having more than one way to alert the public to severe weather events
  • Creating a system that monitors local weather conditions
  • Promoting the importance of public readiness through community seminars and outreach
  • Developing a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and conducting emergency exercises

“Accordingly, All Hazards Alert Weather Radios have been placed in various buildings where public and employee traffic is common; Dispatch, Moose Administration Building, the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center, the Laurance S Rockefeller Preserve Center, Colter Bay Visitor Center, Jenny Lake Visitor Center, and the Jenny Lake Ranger Station,” said Voster.

The All Hazards Radios will broadcast warnings and post-event information for all types of hazards:

Weather (tornadoes, floods, severe thunderstorms, etc.)
Natural (earthquakes, forest fires and volcanic activity, etc.)
Technological (chemical releases, oil spills, nuclear power plant emergencies, etc.) National (terrorist attacks, etc.)
Local (child abduction emergencies, boil water alerts, 911 telephone outage, etc.)

In addition to the placement of All Hazards Radios, Park Dispatch has several ways to receive weather warnings and other emergency information, such as via telephone, internet, email, and law enforcement teletype.

Formalized Standard Operating Procedures have been put in place detailing how this important information is to be distributed by dispatch, including broadcast on the park radio frequency, internal Instant Messaging, and a phone tree to alert critical facilities and concession operations.

“Grand Teton National Park continually seeks new ways to improve safety for visitors, local residents, and park employees. Completing the StormReady requirements—and gaining the knowledge and network necessary to effectively deal with severe weather events—is an important step in creating a safer environment for anyone residing in, or recreating throughout the park. We are proud to have earned StormReady status, and we intend to effectively implement the StormReady communication system for the benefit of not only the park, but also our neighbors,” said Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott.

There are a number of ways visitors can prepare for weather related emergencies in Grand Teton National Park. “First, before they even leave home, they should do a bit of internet research—find out what the forecast for the area is so they know what to expect and can bring appropriate clothing and gear,” said Voster. When guests arrive, they should stop at a Visitor Center to find the current weather forecast and to learn about weather patterns common to the Tetons. It is also a good idea to be aware of what to do if caught outside in a thunderstorm. Being prepared with rain gear and warm clothing is essential when visiting the Park.

Grand Teton National Park is the first and currently only national park to gain StormReady status. “We hope to be an example for other national parks across the country,” said Voster

Learn more about the StormReady program and how to prepare for various disasters and weather hazards:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:
www.stormready.noaa.gov  

Teton County Emergency Management:
www.tetonwyo.org/em

 

Posted from Katie’s Corner

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Confessions of a Signal Mountain Summit Addict

On the Way to Signal Mountain Summit
On the Way to Signal Mountain Summit

 

Several days a week, I find myself trekking to the top of Signal Mountain for some post-work therapy. The journey is equally rewarding as the destination. The climb to the summit is through Douglas firs, aspens, meadows, ponds, and several overlooks of the Tetons and Jackson Lake. Waterfowl and wildlife grace the area, and elk can be heard bugling in the autumn months.
 
There are two ways to the top, a paved road for bikes and vehicles and a trail for pedestrians. By foot the hiker faces a moderate, steady grade and a 5.5 mile round trip. The path climbs at an elevation gain of 633 ft. to the 7,593 ft. summit. For those with less time, the drive only takes about 10 minutes to reach the top.

 

Top of Summit Looking Out East
Top of Summit Looking Out East

 
“Jackson Hole Hikes,” by Rebecca Woods, describes the Signal Mountain Summit quite accurately.

“From gray-green sagebrush covered flats to the forested moraines and kettled area to the east, the handiwork created by glaciers thousands of years ago is spread out on the valley floor below.”

The summit provides one of the finest geology sights in the area, as the landscape appears as a painting under your feet. Incredible bird’s-eye views of the mountain range, the valley, and the winding Snake River are seen from the top.

 

Looking Through to the East
Looking Through to the East

 

Overlook on the Tetons
Overlook on the Tetons

 

Signal Mountain Summit
Signal Mountain Summit

 

In the 1930’s, Signal Mountain was used as a forest service fire lookout, as the valley can be observed for miles to the east. 

Signal Mountain offers a pleasant escape after a long day or is an excellent morning boost, with fantastic views of sunrise. As my day at the office winds down, I prepare for yet another trip to the summit. I am a Signal Mountain Summit addict and I am proud of it.

Posted from Katie’s Corner

 

Heading Back Down
Heading Back Down

Calling All Birders!

Male Blue Grouse Near Signal Mountain Summit
Male Blue Grouse Near Signal Mountain Summit

 

blue grouse5SM
Looking for Food

 

On a trip to the top of Signal Mountain, I spotted quite the critter. My first impression of this bird was that it must be some kind of strange cross between a turkey and a peacock. Alas, there is no such creature, but what I did see was a male Blue Grouse.

This bird has a full spread of white and dark gray tail feathers and a colorful red and white spot near its chest. The rest of the body is mostly a grayish-brown and it is slightly larger than a chicken. Adult males have a yellow-orange patch of bare skin above the eye.

 

blue grouse10SM

 

Male Blue Grouse
Male Blue Grouse

 

While I came upon the grouse near the summit of Signal Mountain, the bird also frequents the west shore of Jenny Lake, the trail from String Lake to Leigh Lake, and the south end of Jackson Hole area.

According to “Birds of Grand Teton National Park,” by Bert Raynes:

“In spring, a male Blue Grouse might walk up to you on the trail and nip at your blue pants or aqua-colored backpack.”

Luckily for me, I left my blue at home that day.

Raynes goes on to note, “You may hear one hooting, a deep note difficult to pinpoint. You will probably have to be alert; these ‘fool hens’ are expert in camouflage and can disappear from view in a few paces. If you do spot one you might be able to approach carefully and observe it at quite close range.”

Watch for this bird in the Park. No, it’s not a brown peacock or a small turkey. It’s a Blue Grouse and they are out and strutting their stuff.

Posted from Katie’s Corner

 

Blue Grouse
Blue Grouse

 

Showing Off Those Tail Feathers
Showing Off Those Tail Feathers