Contact: Marcie Katcher
NOAA News Releases 2005
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Recipients in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky & Maryland

A silver medal — one of the highest honors granted by the U.S. Department of Commerce — was awarded to a team from several NOAA National Weather Service offices for their coordinated life-saving services during the Ohio Valley snow and flood events of December 2004 and January 2005.

“This Silver Medal is indicative of the dedication and hard work of NOAA’s National Weather Service at a time when their expertise is needed most,” 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.”

Mary Jo Parker, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service forecast office in Wilmington, Ohio, said, “This was a superb example of what happens when highly trained National Weather Service employees work in tandem with public officials and our partners in the media. We met our goal of working together to get the warning messages out in order to help protect life and property.”

Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez presented the award to staff members from each of the National Weather Service offices, as part of the 57th Annual Honor Awards ceremony held on December 6, 2005 in Washington, D.C.

Individuals from the NOAA National Weather Service office in Wilmington Ohio, Indianapolis and Syracuse, Indiana; Louisville and Paducah, Kentucky; Cleveland, Ohio; the Ohio River Forecast Center; and the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center in Camp Springs, Md., brought their expertise together to create exceptional predictions and warnings of the record setting Ohio Valley snow and flood events in December 2004 and January 2005.

This was a record setting snow event for some areas, with Dayton, Ohio receiving 16.4 inches in a 24 hour period. In addition, the ice associated with this event resulted in extremely hazardous conditions that lasted for an extended period of time. River flooding then followed the winter event. River flood warnings issued by the National Weather Service office in Wilmington provided an average lead time of more than 12 hours which ensured local officials time for flood mitigation efforts in Columbus, Portsmouth, and Cincinnati, as well as other areas.

“Dedicated, caring employees at several National Weather Service offices demonstrated outstanding leadership and service in keeping the public well-informed before and throughout the record snow and ice storms, and the subsequent rains and flooding,” said Ken Haydu, meteorologist-in-charge of the Wilmington, Ohio forecast office.

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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