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NOAA News Releases 2003
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The U.S. Department of Commerce has awarded its Bronze Medal to Vernon Preston of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service Forecast Office in Pocatello, Idaho. Preston is being recognized for his collaborative efforts to successfully make Idaho the leading state in the NWS national StormReady program in 2001 and 2002. NOAA is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Preston, who serves as the warning coordination meteorologist (WCM), was presented the award today in College Park, Md., by retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. He shares the award with Ken Holmes, fellow WCM at the forecast office in Spokane, Wash., and Carl Weinbrecht, who retired as the WCM in Boise, Idaho. 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 three WCMs collaborated to ensure the StormReady program effectively serves the citizens of Idaho. They guided 21 counties, 82 communities and the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) through the process to attain StormReady certification in the past two years,” said Vickie Nadolski, NWS Western Region director. “As a result of their efforts, Idaho communities are better prepared for the threat of severe weather. Community leaders can minimize loss of life and property through these mitigation efforts.”

The WCM team made Idaho the program’s national leader and has provided a public service to the state through this multi-year program. As of Oct. 14, 2003 there were 657 StormReady communities in 46 states. Idaho represents nearly one-sixth of the nation’s total program participants and nearly four times as many designated StormReady communities than the next highest state. In 2001, 10 Idaho counties and 39 cities were recognized as StormReady, while 11 counties, 43 cities, and INEEL were presented with their certificates in 2002. During the same two years, the state with the next highest number of designated StormReady designations was Florida with 27 locations.

“The team led the nation for the past two years by working closely with individual cities and counties or other organizations. Their combined efforts have made significant improvements in the public’s awareness of the impacts and hazards of severe weather,” Nadolski added.

Mark Love, regional vice president of the Idaho Emergency Managers Association, noted, “StormReady provides several benefits to our communities, including improved timeliness and effectiveness of weather warnings to the public, detailed recommendations to help improve hazardous weather operations for local authorities, and image incentives to our cities and counties that can identify themselves for being ‘StormReady.’ In fact, for those areas participating in the National Flood Insurance Program, a StormReady designation means reduced flood insurance costs.”

StormReady guidelines require emergency managers to establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center. They must have several ways to disseminate these critical lifesaving NWS severe weather warnings to their areas. These warnings can be communicated via outdoor warning sirens and/or mobile vehicles equipped with sirens. Emergency managers may also have the capability to override TV and radio broadcasts through the Emergency Alert System.

The StormReady program is voluntary and provides communities with clear-cut advice through collaboration and partnerships with local NWS forecast offices, state and local emergency managers, the media and the public. StormReady helps create communities that are better prepared for the threat of severe weather.

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 stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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NOAA Administrator Conrad C. Lautenbacher:

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NWS national StormReady: