Winter storms are a rare event in this area with only 42 heavy snow events documented by the National Climatic Data Center of the National Weather Center in Hall County.
However, nine, or 21 percent, of those 42 winter storms have blanketed Hall County in just the past five years.
That’s the kind of data and assessment contained in the Hall County Hazard Mitigation Update — a community plan used to evaluate natural or man-made emergencies, identify resources and develop and implement a plan of action to protect and safeguard the public.
The plan has been approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a period that covers 2016 through 2021, according to Hall County spokeswoman Katie Crumley.
Earlier this week, Gainesville City Council signed onto the plan.
“The plan becomes official once all cities have signed it,” Crumley said.
FEMA requires that every county and municipality have a pre-disaster mitigation plan in place, and requires the adoption of such plans in order to receive funding from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. According to FEMA, the key purpose of the grant is to enact mitigation measures that reduce the risk of loss of life and property from future disasters.
Crumley said the county received a Hazard Mitigation Grant for $12,825 in 2010-11. She said the program provides funding to develop a pre-disaster mitigation plan to be used throughout the county during an emergency.
Severe thunderstorms have been the most prevalent hazard over the past 50 years in Hall County with 214 documented occurrences, according to information contained in the mitigation plan. Tornadoes, which sometimes spawn from thunderstorms, occur with less frequency — 16 of them documented over the past half century.
Other natural threats that have impacted Hall County with less frequency or severity over the years include drought, excessive heat, tropical cyclones, earthquakes and wildfires, according to Hall’s hazard mitigation plan.
Crumley said the county is working with the cities to get the document signed.
“We will be checking with each (of the cities) next week for an update,” Crimley said.