NOAA 2005-R263
Contact: Ron Trumbla
NOAA News Releases 2005
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Two forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service have been selected to receive a national Isaac M. Cline Award. This is the agency’s highest recognition for operational excellence. Honored in the Hydrometeorology category, Hydrologic Forecaster Michael Shultz and former Hydrometeorology and Support Forecaster Keith Stellman are being recognized for their outstanding work at NOAA’s National Weather Service West Gulf River Forecast Center in Fort Worth, Texas, during a severe weather event in April of last year.

“Our primary mission is to save lives and property, and the Cline Award recognizes the high level of proficiency in which National Weather Service employees carry out their tremendous responsibilities,” stated Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), director of NOAA’s National Weather Service.

The prestigious Isaac M. Cline Awards are named for the man whose courage and dedication is credited with saving thousands of lives during the Galveston, Texas, hurricane of 1900. Cline was in charge of the U.S. Weather Bureau (as the National Weather Service was called then) in Galveston when the popular coastal city was struck with the deadliest natural disaster in the nation’s history. The death toll exceeded 8,000, but could have been much higher if not for Cline’s acute understanding of the weather and his early hurricane warnings in an era when meteorology was in its infancy and ship-to-shore communications were non-existent.

“The memory of Isaac Cline has exemplified the devotion of duty and courage that is so much a part of the 134 year history of the National Weather Service,” said Bill Proenza, director, NOAA’s National Weather Service Southern Region. “It is fitting that we honor excellent employees like Michael Shultz and Keith Stellman with awards that bear his name.”

Shultz and Stellman were on duty during the early morning hours of April 6, 2004, as heavy rain drenched the headwaters of the Guadalupe, Frio and Nueces rivers -- just west of San Antonio in the heart of Texas’ flood prone hill country. It is a region of rocky soil and steep terrain where dangerous flash floods can develop so quickly that forecasts with warning lead times are difficult to produce.

Despite the difficulty, their experience, situational awareness and understanding of the region’s hydrologic characteristics allowed them recognize a serious flood situation was developing and to respond proactively. The result was a series of timely forecasts that included exceptional lead times of four to 17 hours.

“We are very proud of this accomplishment,” said Jerry Nunn, hydrologist-in-charge, NOAA’s National Weather Service West Gulf River Forecast Center. “This award not only reflects favorably on Shultz and Stellman – but on the entire staff at the West Gulf River Forecast Center.”

Each year local, regional and national Cline Award recipients are chosen in eight categories including meteorology; hydrometeorology; engineering, electronics or facilities; hydrology; support services; program management and administration; upper air observation; and leadership. Presented to individuals and teams, the awards identify and recognize employees for operational excellence in the delivery of products and services in support of the NOAA National Weather Service mission.

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.

NOAA, 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 the nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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