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NOAA News Releases 2005
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A Silver Medal – one of the highest honors granted by the Secretary of the Department of Commerce – has been awarded to the staff of NOAA’s National Weather Service in Austin/San Antonio for life-saving services provided during devastating floods and tornadoes in south-central Texas in November 2004.

“This Silver Medal is a fitting recognition of the dedication of the staff at the Austin/San Antonio forecast office as they provided accurate and timely warnings during a prolonged and extensive record rain and severe weather event,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “I’m very proud that the secretary of commerce has chosen NOAA National Weather Service personnel to receive this award.”

The Silver Medal honors “exceptional performance characterized by noteworthy or superlative contributions that have a direct and lasting impact within the Department.”

Between November 16 and 23, 2004, the highly populated corridor from Austin to San Antonio received 10 to 15 inches of rain as the Texas Hill country was soaked by six to 10 inches. Severe storms produced 21 confirmed tornadoes and major flooding which precipitated numerous high water rescues.

Flooded roads isolated the Austin/San Antonio forecast office, but creative staffing, personal sacrifices and flexibility enabled the office staff to tackle extensive non-routine duties. The staffers demonstrated outstanding skill and creativity when issuing life-saving warnings and forecast services. They also provided crucial briefings and coordination with emergency managers and responders during the entire event. As a result, lives were saved and property losses minimized.

The forecast office issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook and a Flood Watch two days prior to the event and the staff utilized an innovative way of notifying emergency managers and media by direct e-mail messaging. The forecast office issued 262 public warning products, including 130 flash flood warnings and 41 tornado warnings, as well as 454 follow-up statements.

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

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, 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. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners and nearly 60 countries to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes.

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