NOAA 2004-R241
Contact: Marilu Trainor

NOAA News Releases 2004
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Clay Freinwald, chairman of the Washington State Emergency Alert System committee, will be receiving the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Environmental Hero Award on April 23 in Seattle. The award will be presented by Chris Hill, meteorologist in charge of the NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) Forecast Office in Seattle.

Held in conjunction with Earth Day celebrations, the award honors NOAA volunteers for their “tireless efforts to preserve and protect our nation's environment.” Freinwald was recognized for leading the effort to create a true “all-hazards” NOAA Weather Radio automated network within the state of Washington. “As a result of his efforts, Emergency Alert System (EAS) messages from national, state, county and local authorities reach residents automatically and within seconds on NOAA Weather Radio,” Hill said.

“NOAA and the nation are fortunate to have such dedicated people volunteer so much of their time,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “They set a perfect example for others to follow in their communities. America needs more environmental heroes like them.”

Established in 1995 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Earth Day, the NOAA Environmental Hero Award is presented to individuals and organizations that volunteer their time to help NOAA carry out its mission.

By using NOAA Weather Radio’s (NWR) alert feature for EAS all-hazards messages, Washington citizens are alerted to immediate life-threatening hazard warnings, rather than depending on them being tuned in to commercial radio or TV at the time an emergency occurs. The test system, located at NWS Seattle, has been in successful operation since April 2001. Through March 2004, the system has relayed nine EAS messages: six Amber Alerts, two 911 outages, and one Evacuation Immediate for a gas leak.

The system involves capturing and relaying “all-hazards” EAS messages from local authorities directly to NWR transmitters. The system saves time by allowing immediate relay of emergency messages onto NWR, which covers 95 percent of the population in Washington. This system is the model for other EAS relay programs being implemented on NOAA Weather Radio in the western United States.

Freinwald is a Senior Facilities Engineer for EnterCom Radio Seattle. EnterCom has permitted him to volunteer his time and effort to be the Washington State EAS committee chair since 1996. He is past President of the Society of Broadcast Engineers and is currently a board member of this organization. His efforts have resulted in several other successful test NWR systems elsewhere in the country.

Freinwald’s efforts helped the state of Washington adopt NWR as the state's all-hazards warning system and has resulted in the state promoting NWR for five years. The promotion has helped double the number of people with weather radios across the state.

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

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