National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Pima County Regional Flood Control District

Recognized as 2020 Southeast Arizona

Weather Ready Nation Ambassador of Excellence



WRNA logoThe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Weather Service (NWS) have developed the Weather Ready Nation (WRN) Ambassador Initiative to help improve the nation’s readiness, responsiveness, and overall resilience against extreme weather, water, and climate events. WRN Ambassadors extend across government, non-profits, academia, and private industry; and share the goal of making the nation more ready, responsive, and resilient against extreme environmental hazards. Nationwide, there are over 11,000 WRN Ambassadors committed to working with NOAA, the NWS and other Ambassadors to strengthen resilience against extreme weather.



NWS Tucson nominated the Pima County Regional Flood Control District (PCRFCD) as the 2020 Ambassador of Excellence in southeast Arizona for their efforts to prepare those potentially impacted by increased flash flooding threats associated with the Bighorn Fire burn area and to enhance the services they provide to other public safety agencies, including the NWS.

photo of NWS and PCRFCD personnel

Pictured from left to right: Ken Drozd (NWS Tucson) and PCRFCD Deputy Director Eric Shepp, Greg Saxe, Ross Shipley
Second row: Jeff Mangold, Jessica Orto, Evan Canfield;  Third row: Brian Jones, Joseph Cuffari, Ken Maits;
Bottom row: Chief Hydrologist Lynn Orchard and Director Suzanne Shields


PCRFCD augmented their observational and dissemination capabilities by installing additional rain gauges within the burn area and by updating inundation maps and flood impact map layers on their website for locations downstream of the burn area based on post-fire conditions. They also adjusted precipitation gauge alarm levels to match the flash flooding warning threshold used by the NWS.  PCRFCD furnished specialized flood risk awareness and risk mitigation information in a letter to property owners downstream of the burn area.  The letter included information about how to: acquire flood insurance; protect property and obtain sandbags; and sign up for the Pima County Office of Emergency Management’s system called MyAlerts that allows PCRFCD to provide near real-time flood information that supplements NWS flash flood warnings.

PCRFCD is also a key organization involved in maintaining the county’s status as a StormReady Community. Through this collaboration with the NWS, PCRFCD exchanges information with the NWS prior to, during, and after heavy rain and/or flooding events. This includes the sharing of gauge-based flood ALERT information directly with the NWS.


photo of gauge installationphoto of gauge repair





















Left: Lynn Orchard installs a new ALERT gauge in the upper reaches of the Finger Rock watershed.

Right: Jeff Mangold and Ross Shipley repair an ALERT gauge that burned in the Bighorn Fire.


NWS Tucson has dozens of local Weather Ready Nation Ambassadors across southeast Arizona. The Ambassador initiative recognizes leaders in the community that help build community resilience in the face of extreme weather events – from promoting safety messages in outreach activities, to being a “weather-ready” role model. Any organization can become a Weather Ready Nation Ambassador. Schools, government agencies, private businesses, civic organizations, homeowner associations and others can apply online at If you have questions about the WRN Ambassador initiative or the online application, please contact Ken Drozd at