NOAA 2000-239
Contact: Frank Lepore


NOAA Weather Radio, the portable device credited with saving countless lives during severe weather events, was the backdrop at an awards ceremony on Capitol Hill today, honoring 11 individuals and corporations that have contributed to the visibility, and in some cases, the accessibility of the radios.

"In so many ways, NOAA Weather Radio literally has meant the difference between life and death when a tornado, flood, hurricane or snow storm threatened a community," NOAA Administrator D. James Baker said at the NOAA Weather Radio Mark Trail Awards ceremony, held at the Russell Senate Office Building.

Retired Air Force Brigadier General Jack Kelly, director of NOAA's National Weather Service, praised the award recipients for their consistent efforts to make people aware of the life-saving advantages of owning a NOAA Weather Radio.

"Without your tireless resolve to put NOAA Weather Radio on the minds of a growing number of Americans, we might have lost more lives to severe weather," Kelly said. As a recent example, he pointed to the Feb. 14 outbreak of early-morning tornadoes in southwest Georgia. "Some residents were spared because NOAA Weather Radio woke them up with key information before the tornadoes arrived," Kelly added.

There were a total of 16 award recipients, covering a wide spectrum – from a southern governor, to a Chicago-area grocery store chain. Five of the awards were presented locally, not in Washington, D.C.

Since its debut in the 1950s, NOAA Weather Radio has evolved from relative obscurity into a must-have possession that Vice-President Al Gore in 1994 said should be as common in American households as smoke detectors.

Sponsors for the award ceremony were: the American Meteorological Society, Radio Shack, Midland Consumer Radio, Inc.; Topaz3 & Maxon America, Oregon Scientific, Inc. and Wireless Marketing Corp.

Listed below is the full list of award recipients:

Georgia Governor Roy Barnes - For his leadership in obtaining $3 million to buy NOAA Weather Radio transmitters and radios for Georgia residents;

The Georgia Emergency Management Agency - For spearheading the NOAA Weather Radio transmitter expansion, which has resulted in nearly 100 percent coverage in the state;

QVC – For its mass marketing efforts, which have placed more than 100,000 NOAA Weather Radios in homes and businesses during the past three years;

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency - The first state to mandate NOAA Weather Radio in all schools, this agency purchased and installed the radios and educated school administrators about how to respond to severe weather warnings;

The Florida Division of Emergency Management - Bought and installed NOAA Weather Radios in each school in the state and has invested in NOAA Weather Radio transmitters, bringing Florida close to 100 percent coverage;

King Features Syndicate - For its pro bono use of the Mark Trail cartoon image as the spokesperson for NOAA Weather Radio;

The Institute for Business and Home Safety - Following Hurricane Andrew, the IBHS gave the first grant to provide NOAA Weather Radios to schools, hospitals and nursing homes in Miami-Dade County, Fla.;

Eagle Country Market - For years, Eagle has printed severe weather safety messages on grocery bags;

The City of Iroquois, S.D. - The first all-NOAA Weather Radio community of the U.S., Iroquois' mayor and city council chose to buy NOAA Weather Radios for the city's schools, churches, businesses and households instead of upgrading their old siren system;

The Wisconsin Educational Communications Board - For purchasing and operating nine NOAA Weather Radio transmitters, with plans for four more;

M&A Electrical Power Cooperative - For giving the National Weather Service five NOAA Weather Radio transmitters, and plans a fourth;

Acordia Northwest – Donated a NOAA Weather Radio transmitter for the Puget Sound area;

Nyberg's Ace Hardware Store and KELO-TV – Following the devastating Spencer, S.D. tornado in 1998, Ace Hardware and KELO-TV placed more than 5,000 NOAA Weather Radios in homes and businesses in the Sioux Falls area;

Clarksville/Montgomery County, Tenn. – After a tornado destroyed most of the downtown Clarksville area, Jim Bierkamp, a local business executive, led fundraising efforts, which tallied $70,000 to buy a new NOAA Weather Radio transmitter;

Elmer Matzek - For his fast response to a tornado approaching the Norland Plastics plant in Haysville, Kans. Following NOAA Weather Radio warnings, Matzek led 80 employees into the basement minutes before the devastating tornado arrived and destroyed the building;

Franklin R. Stork, executive director and CEO, Missouri Rural Electric Cooperatives - A long-time supporter of NOAA Weather Radio, Stork has led successful efforts to place eight NOAA Weather Radios in the state.