NOAA 2002-006
Contact: Ron Trumbla
NOAA News Releases 2002
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The American Meteorological Society has selected Mike Foster, meteorologist in charge of NOAA's National Weather Service Forecast Office in Norman, Okla., as the recipient of this year's Award for Exceptional Specific Prediction. The award is being presented in recognition of Foster's decisive, life-saving actions during the March 28, 2000, tornado in Fort Worth, Texas.

Working as the Science and Operations Officer for the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Weather Service at the Fort Worth Weather Forecast Office, Foster was monitoring a severe storm that contained a mesocyclone – but did not have strong circulation. There were no spotter reports of tornado-like cloud formations or other features associated with a developing tornado. Relying on his skill and analysis of severe storm structure, Foster decided to issue a tornado warning at 6:10 p.m. Fifteen minutes later, a strong F-2 tornado struck downtown Fort Worth.

While warnings were issued for 11 tornadoes that day, the Fort Worth twister was most devastating – causing an estimated $500 million in damage and injuring 150 people. Despite the widespread destruction, only five deaths were reported and just two of those were directly related to the tornado. The low death toll is attributed to the fact that most people heard and heeded the warning. Had Foster waited for confirmation, the warning lead time may not have been sufficient and many more lives could have been lost.

"Mr. Foster's skill and professionalism during this event is the embodiment of the AMS Award for Exceptional Specific Prediction," said Bill Proenza, NOAA's National Weather Service Southern Region director. "His experience and training paid off that night and the citizens of Fort Worth benefitted tremendously."

Since Foster joined the National Weather Service in 1985, he has distinguished himself as a forecaster, an innovative leader and an integral player in the development of new Doppler radar technology and interactive computer systems. Following the Fort Worth tornado event, he was promoted to his present position in Norman. His long list of accomplishments include the Department of Commerce Silver Medal and the NOAA Administrator's Award.

The Exceptional Specific Prediction Award will be presented January 16, at the 82nd Annual AMS Meeting in Orlando, Fla.

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