NOAA 2004-R222
Contact: Marilu Trainor
NOAA News Releases 2004
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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Weather Service presented NOAA Service Hydrologist Troy Nicolini of Eureka the Isaac M. Cline Award for 2003 today. NOAA is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Nicolini was presented with the award by NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) Western Region Director, Vickie Nadolski, who said, “Your successful completion of a series of projects in research, training and outreach, all with both local and national significance is commendable. Your achievement reflects great credit on you and the Eureka office of the National Weather Service.”

Jimmy Smith, Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, and representatives from the local maritime industry attended the event.

Nicolini is recognized in part for developing an innovative method to estimate the flood stage for river forecast points and pioneering work in forecast methods for the interface between rivers and the ocean. Nicolini identified the need for a new forecast point on the Navarro River in northwest California, alleviating the need for California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) crews to drive to a location to determine when to close roads. CalTrans can now close the road prior to the flooding and increase public safety.

“Troy’s innovative work will save people who attempt to drive this two-lane, winding road more than a two-hour drive if they had to be turned back due to flood conditions. It will also help reduce the chance of a vehicle-related flooding death,” Nadolski said.

Nicolini worked to develop forecasting methods for the area of interaction between river estuaries and coastal storms. He has collaborated with other agencies to develop various web-based national training modules for hydrology.

Eureka Meteorologist in Charge Nancy Dean said Nicolini is always taking a fresh look at the NWS role in protecting lives in the north coast area.

“Troy knew that an average of five people die each year at local rivers or beaches and these deaths were likely the result of lack of understanding about the water’s dangers,” Dean said. Troy and Eureka’s NWS warning coordination meteorologist, John Lovegrove, worked with other agencies to establish the Water Safety Coalition of Northwest California in 2002. This coalition distributes posters and flyers that convey critical water safety messages and are used by agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, the California Department of Water Resources, Humboldt County and private sector rafting companies.

To further help the community, Nicolini created several hydrology public service announcements for local radio and TV stations. He worked with Humboldt State University to distribute information to new students about the hazards of the surrounding rivers. These products are often used in English-as-a-second-language (ESL) course and helps foreign students better understand water safety information.

Nicolini collaborated with other organizations to produce weather kiosks for public use. He was able to implement this program with almost no cost to the NWS by securing grant money and through donations of equipment from Humboldt County. The first kiosk is located at Eureka’s Woodley Island marina and employs touch screen technology.

“The overall impacts of Troy’s efforts can be seen by a dramatic drop in river-related deaths and a better understanding of many issues related to hydrology impacts in northern California,” Nadolski said. “Employees selected for Cline Awards have clearly demonstrated excellence in both their operational skills and in the delivery of products and services in support of the NWS mission.”

The Cline Awards are highly competitive. Recipients are first selected within the local weather forecast office and through subsequent regional and national competitions. The award is named in honor of Isaac M. Cline, one of the most recognized employees in weather service history. His heroic forecasts and hurricane warnings are credited with savings thousands of lives during the Galveston, Texas, hurricane of Sept. 8, 1900, when the seaport was struck by the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history. The death toll exceeded 8,000, but could have been much higher if not for Cline’s understanding of the weather and his public warning.

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