As Winter Weather Preparedness Day approaches in South Dakota on Oct. 25, two offices at South Dakota State University have been honored for making significant contributions to building a Weather-Ready Nation.
SDSU Extension and the SDSU Office of Emergency Preparedness are among 55 entities nationwide to be designated as Ambassadors of Excellence by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service.
This is the seventh year for the Weather-Ready Nation awards and the first time a university has been recognized.
In heralding the work of the Office of Emergency Management, the weather service noted the office, led by Jayme Trygstad, routinely shares weather preparedness information and safety messages through its social media channels.
In addition, electronic newsletters are distributed to the university's thousands of students and staff highlighting the importance of winter weather safety. This is particularly important given that many students and staff commute daily to Brookings across open rural areas that are frequently impacted by snow, mixed precipitation and low visibility due to blowing snow.
Winter weather awareness is further emphasized by a comprehensive website, providing resources related to winter storms, blizzards, snow squalls and winter survival kits for vehicles.
“Jayme is an invaluable partner in helping build a Weather-Ready Nation,” according to Peter J. Rogers, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls.
Climate Summit touted by NWS
South Dakota State Climatologist Laura Edwards leads SDSU Extension in building a Weather-Ready Nation for all South Dakotans, the weather service reported.
SDSU Extension provides links to National Weather Service weather, water and climate information both through the web and in person to serve South Dakota’s diverse urban, rural and tribal communities.
On Aug. 1-2, SDSU hosted the first-ever South Dakota Climate Summit, focused upon building community resilience among South Dakota's most vulnerable sectors needing to plan for weather, water and climate impacts across the state.
The free event at Oacoma attracted state and federal agencies, nonprofits, conservation groups and citizens.
There were breakout sessions, panel discussions and presentations covering climate impacts on water resources, agriculture, urban infrastructure, recreation, tourism, conservation, wildland fire and tribal communities. There also was an overview of the Mesonet weather information collecting network at South Dakota State.
DOT, Badlands also honored
Two other South Dakota entities were recognized—the South Dakota Department of Transportation and Badlands National Park.
The weather service reported throughout the severe 2022-23 winter, the South Dakota Department of Transportation communications team played a pivotal role in ensuring residents were well prepared for winter weather hazards, well before the winter season started.
South Dakota DOT consistently disseminated Weather-Ready Nation safety information. Also, the Department of Transportation understands the importance of sharing its real-time webcam and snowplow imagery. This content was also widely recirculated by the weather service, reinforcing its value.
In addition, DOT initiatives such as the snowplow-naming contest and the creation of educational materials like coloring sheets, crossword puzzles and word finds, actively promote the core messages of the Weather-Ready Nation campaign.
Badlands National Park Resource Education Division Supervisory Park Ranger Aaron Kaye provided valuable insight for the development of the new Lightning Safety Toolkit for Parks and Wilderness Areas. He also prepares the park for the threat of hazardous weather by promoting weather safety messaging.