Contact: Greg Romano

NOAA News Releases 2004
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The U.S. Department of Commerce has awarded its Bronze Medal to the NOAA National Weather Service Forecast Office in Billings, Mont. The award recognizes the staff for outstanding work in providing weather support to numerous federal, state, and local government agencies in their fire suppression activities during the extraordinary 2003 fire season. NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“The Billings staff was commended for providing an enhanced level of service to the fire weather community and public during the fire season of 2003,” said Vickie Nadolski, director of the National Weather Service Western Region. “They demonstrated their willingness to put service above self and performed well above the normal call of duty. This performance provides a clear example of the National Weather Service’s mission to protect life and property.”

According to Keith Meier, meteorologist-in-charge of the Billings Forecast Office, the forecast staff provided an unprecedented number of site-specific forecasts for wildfires and warnings for weather conditions that created fire control problems and potential loss of life.

“Support was also provided to seven Incident Meteorologists working on fire complexes in the area and forecast shifts were covered by the staff which allowed the office Incident Meteorologist to provide onsite support to fires across the western U.S.” said Meier. “There we no injuries or fatalities to people during this prolonged severe fire season.”

During the fire weather season of 2003, the forecast office in Billings issued 470 site-specific fire weather forecasts, of which 347 were for wildfires. During a six day stretch in August, the Billings Forecast Office issued 147 site specific fire weather forecasts for wildfires during the most critical period of the 2003 fire weather season.

The award was presented at a special ceremony in Washington, D.C. The secretary of commerce presents the Bronze Medal to commerce department offices and employees who have made outstanding or significant contributions in support of the overall departmental goals that serve the nation.

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