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NOAA News Releases 2003
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The National Weather Association (NWA) today recognized several employees and partners from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS) Southern Region for their providing crucial meteorological information and support services to the public. Launched in 1977, the NWA Awards program is designed to recognize exceptional group or individual achievements in a variety of categories. NOAA is an agency of the Department of Commerce.

The awards were presented at the 28th NWA Annual Awards Luncheon at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in Jacksonville, Fla. NWS Southern Region employees and partners were honored in four categories. “I would like to add my personal congratulations to the National Weather Service employees and partners being honored this year,” said Bill Proenza, director, NWS Southern Region. “While we have been well aware of their outstanding contributions for some time, it’s gratifying to see them receive the national recognition they deserve.”

Operational Achievement Group Award: This award is presented to a group of two or more individuals for a significant contribution to operational meteorology. The award was presented to Tim Oram, a meteorologist for the NWS/NASA Spaceflight Meteorology Group’s (SMG) Technique Development Unit, and SMG Lead Forecasters Tim Garner and Richard Lafosse – for their outstanding support of NASA during the investigation of Space Shuttle Columbia’s tragic break up. While the entire SMG team contributed to the investigation, the award recipients demonstrated exceptional leadership and technical skills during this difficult period. The Spaceflight Meteorology Group is a critical part of mission control operations at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

Aviation Meteorology Award: This award is presented to an individual or group to recognize significant contributions to aviation meteorology. This year’s award recognizes the entire staff of the National Weather Service Office at the FAA Training Academy in Oklahoma City, Okla. Over the years, these dedicated employees have provided outstanding support to the nation’s pilots through training and certification of the FAA’s Pilot Weather Briefing (PWB) candidates and have worked consistently to elevate PWB standards. The FAA employs nearly 3,000 pilot weather controllers at 61 facilities throughout the United States. The controllers provide more than 16 million pilot weather briefings annually.

Walter J. Bennett Public Service Award: This award is presented to an individual or organization directly assisting the meteorological community in providing weather-related information to the public. This year’s award recognizes the Medina Electric Cooperative, which serves a 17 county area in south central Texas. Faced with a lack of coverage in parts of south Texas, Medina Electric Cooperative secured U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service grants and spearheaded the effort to install four new NOAA Weather Radio transmitters. Medina’s team members worked closely with city and county leaders from their service area to raise matching grant funding and in-kind donations to obtain the transmitters. They also launched a newspaper and publication campaign to further develop public awareness of the NOAA Weather Radio program. Once the transmitters were installed, Medina Electric began selling NOAA Weather radios to their membership at cost and donated receivers to all schools throughout the service area.

Broadcaster of the Year Award: This award is presented to an NWA member in the media whose activities have significantly contributed to the development and presentation of weather information to the public. This year’s award recognizes Univisión Television Network Meteorologist John Toohey-Morales. Considered the first true Spanish-speaking meteorologist in the United States, he broadcasts nationwide from Univisión’s WLTV in Miami. Univisión reaches more than 100 million Latinos in the United States and Latin America. Toohey-Morales consistently provided Spanish Language warnings about Hurricane Andrew to South Florida residents – in 1992. He also received an Emmy Award for a Spanish Language information program detailing the steps needed to save life and property during a hurricane emergency.

The National Weather Association is a professional nonprofit association, incorporated in Washington, DC, in 1975 to serve individuals interested in operational meteorology and related activities. It has more than 3,000 members and subscribers in the United States and overseas.

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