FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Marilu Trainor
News Releases 2004
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The Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS) office in Pocatello, Idaho, and the NWS Northwest River Forecast Center (NWRFC) in Portland, Ore., partnered with Bingham County Disaster Services to establish another river forecast point service on the Snake River. The Blackfoot, Idaho river forecast point will use the Interior Department’s U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) stream flow gauge to provide river stage observations to be used by the NWRFC to provide forecast and guidance for flood warnings.
Pocatello’s Meteorologist-in-Charge, Jim Meyer, joined Errol Covington, Bingham County disaster services coordinator and Bingham County commissioners during a brief ceremony designating the forecast point today.
The flood stage on the Snake River at Blackfoot has been established at 10 feet (elevation 4,500 feet mean-sea-level.) The Blackfoot gauge, owned and operated by the USGS, is one of nine river forecast points in eastern Idaho. The others include the Big Wood River at Hailey, Henry’s Fork at St. Anthony, Little Wood River near, Portneuf River at Pocatello, Snake River at Heise and Shelley, and the Teton River.
Meyer said the major flooding during the spring of 1997 along the Snake River prompted the upgrade to an official NWS river forecast point. “As a recognized community in the NWS’ StormReady program, Bingham County’s new forecast point is another in a series of disaster-resistant projects that help prepare citizens and emergency responders for flood threat.”
“This new forecast service at Blackfoot is an invaluable tool for forecasting flows on the Snake River,” said Harold Optiz, NWRFC hydrologist-in-charge. “Also, the river stage forecasts help us meet the NWS mission of protecting life and property for the citizens in the Snake River basin."
“With the extensive spring snowmelt flooding that has occurred in the Blackfoot area over the past years, a river forecast at the center of the flooding area will provide valuable lead time in preparing our community for the next disaster,” said Covington. “This is another example of a shared partnership with our emergency services and the NWS to establish preparedness activities for those in harm’s way along the Snake River.”
As part of preparedness activities, emergency managers and the public may view real time river data from the Blackfoot gauge and others across the United States via the NWS’ Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (AHPS). AHPS is a web-based suite of accurate and information-rich forecast products.
Sherrie Hebert, NWS Pocatello’s service hydrologist, said, “This service improves flood warnings and water resource forecasts to meet our diverse and changing customer needs and is available to anyone in real-time.”
The Pocatello Weather Forecast Office (WFO) provides all weather services for 17 counties in eastern Idaho. The WFO collects meteorological data, prepares and disseminates weather forecasts, fire weather forecasts and warnings, river and flood forecasts and warnings, and issues severe weather watches and warnings to the public.
The NWRFC prepares river stage forecasts for the major rivers in the Columbia River Basin. The new Blackfoot forecast point brings the number of NWRFC river-stage forecast points to 368 throughout the Columbia River Basin. Covering approximately 286,000 square miles, the river forecast center is responsible for parts of seven states and part of western Canada. It is the second most active river forecast center in the United States.
NOAA’s National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. The NWS 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.
On the Web:
National Weather Service: http://www.nws.noaa.gov
National Weather Service Pocatello: http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/pocatello
Northwest River Forecast Center: http://www.nwrfc.noaa.gov
Prediction Services: http://www.nwrfc.noaa.gov/ahps/ahps.cgi