Commerce Department Awards Bronze Medal to
National Weather Service Forecast Office in Birmingham

Department of Commerce Bronze MedalThe U.S. Department of Commerce has awarded its prestigious Bronze Medal to NOAA's National Weather Service forecast office in Birmingham, Ala. The staff is being recognized for mitigating the loss of life and property from Hurricane Katrina by providing outstanding weather services to the citizens of Alabama and backup support for other forecast offices.

�Saving lives and property is the central function of each National Weather Service forecast office,� said Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), Director of NOAA's National Weather Service. �The Bronze Medal demonstrates the hard work of the Birmingham forecast office to accomplish this goal.�

Retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph. D, Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA administrator, presented the award today during a ceremony at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. The Bronze Medal honors superior performance characterized by outstanding or significant contributions that have increased the efficiency and effectiveness of the Commerce Department.

Staff members realized they were facing one of the worst hurricanes in history, and responded accordingly. Before, during and after the storm, they consistently placed the National Weather Service mission above their own concerns by providing critical services to local, state and federal officials -- as well as the general public. Two staff members were dispatched to provide critical weather updates at the state's Emergency Operations Center , while a third provided numerous briefings for the Governor, state and federal officials and the media. Meanwhile, the office staff held statewide conference calls twice a day, in addition to answering numerous individual calls from emergency managers, media and the public.

The extensive services given to the state and county emergency management officials enabled them to work more effectively with the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA in allocating and positioning resources before, during, and after Katrina.

Staffing and backup support services were also provided to neighboring forecast offices. After landfall, four staff members spent a week in the forecast office in Mobile assisting with backup operations. Birmingham also took over web services for the office in New Orleans to ensure the web site was kept up to date with the latest information.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is celebrating 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Commission of Fish and Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America 's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by 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, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.


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