NOAA 2002-051
Contact: John Leslie
NOAA News Releases 2002
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A team of experts from NOAA's National Weather Service today began a routine service assessment of the agency's operations during last weekend's tornado event in southern Maryland. The outbreak killed three people, injured 120 others and caused damages exceeding $100 million.

On Monday, the National Weather Service's Baltimore/Washington forecast office preliminarily rated one tornado, which struck the town of La Plata, as an F5 – the highest ranking on the Fujita Tornado Damage Scale, with winds exceeding 260 mph.

After large-scale weather events, the National Weather Service routinely sends out service assessment teams to "discover ways the agency can improve its overall operations, from forecasts and warnings, to community outreach," said team leader John Ogren, who also heads the forecast office in Indianapolis, Ind.

Ogren introduced the team at a press briefing in La Plata. He said after the members speak with local emergency managers, media and the public impacted by the tornadoes, the team would prepare a report of recommendations to the National Weather Service. The recommendations often highlight best practices and lessons learned from severe weather events.

An announcement of when the final report is complete will happen later, Ogren said. To learn more about the agency's service assessments, visit

NOAA's National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. NOAA Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy.

To learn more about NOAA Weather Service please see