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The U.S. Department of Commerce has awarded its Bronze Medal to the NOAA National Weather Service Forecast Office in Glasgow for its public service. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's NWS Forecast Office in Glasgow was recognized for providing outstanding service to the citizens of northeast Montana during two significant flash flooding events, which resulted in extensive property damage including two dam breaks. NOAA is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

NWS Glasglow’s Meteorologist in Charge, Julie Adolphson, was presented the award today in College Park, Md., by retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. The Bronze Medal is the highest honorary award given by NOAA and is granted for a significant contribution to NOAA or the Department of Commerce.

“The forecast office in Glasgow is recognized for providing outstanding warning services to the citizens of northeast Montana during two significant flash flooding events on June 22-23 and Aug. 21, 2002. Because of their efforts, no lives were lost, no injuries occurred, and property loss was minimized,” said Vickie Nadolski, NWS Western Region director. “The Glasgow team demonstrated the effectiveness of their comprehensive severe weather preparedness programs.”

Adolphson explained the community was well warned for the June 22-23 event. The forecast team put out early warnings for the likelihood of flash flooding more than three hours prior to water from the break.

“Early on June 22, forecasters used our severe weather checklists and issued a Severe Weather Outlook indicating that severe thunderstorms were possible from the afternoon through evening. A flash flood warning was also issued and the storm’s total precipitation was nearly ten inches. The next day, a Skywarn weather spotter called to indicate the dam had given away. Another flash flood warning was issued immediately because the dam held 2,200 acre feet of water and was 60 feet high and 500 feet long,” Adolphson said.

Norm Parrent, Montana State Disaster and Emergency Services District IV representative, praised the efforts of the Glasgow forecasters by saying, ”Because of the Glasgow NWS office’s quick warning of the dam break, the people downstream of the dam were able to get to safety before the wall of water reached their homes.” Several cars were washed away, basements flooded, fences destroyed, but no lives were lost. Hundreds of livestock were moved to safety.

The Aug. 21, 2002 event produced more than the average yearly rainfall in less than eight hours and produced hail drifts as deep as two feet. Adolphson said the extreme rainfall rate exceeded anything the local forecasters had seen since the Doppler weather radar became operational in Glasgow seven years ago.

A Severe Weather Outlook was issued early that morning highlighting the potential for severe thunderstorms with large hail and very heavy rain for the afternoon and evening of Aug. 21. “The statement said ‘the best chance of severe thunderstorms will be along and south of U.S. Highway 2' and that was exactly where the severe weather occurred,” Adolphson explained. “Over the next six and one half hours, the severe thunderstorms intensified and continuously redeveloped over southern Valley and northern McCone counties.”

Nadolski concluded, “The Department of Commerce, NOAA and the National Weather Service have all benefited from the outstanding performance of the entire staff of the weather forecast office in Glasgow. They have demonstrated their effectiveness by preparing a well thought out and coordinated warning program that has led to saving lives and property of the people of northeast Montana.”

NOAA’s National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. National 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.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardshipof our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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