USGS Georgia Science Center Director Ed Martin (1st Row-Right) and Southern Region Director Bill Proenza (1st Row - 2nd from Right) pose with USGS team (Photo: WFO Peachtree City)
(June 16, 2010) -- Bill Proenza, regional director of the National Weather Service Southern Region presented the prestigious Southern Region Director's Award to the staff at the U.S. Geological Survey Georgia Water Science Center in Atlanta.
The USGS team was recognized "For extraordinary efforts in providing critical water data to the National Weather Service, which helped provide life-saving warnings to the citizens of north Georgia during the record floods of September 2009".
On September 15, the National Weather Service forecast office in Peachtree City recorded just four-one hundredths of an inch of rain at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. But the rain continued to increase throughout the week.
On the 19th, the airport recorded a record 3.7 inches and some outlying observing stations reported up to five inches. The Southeast River Forecast Center also noted that some isolated areas actually received up to 20 inches during the life of the event.
Tragically, the subsequent flooding claimed 10 lives, led to hundreds of high water rescues, damaged or destroyed more than 20 thousand homes and businesses and cost an estimated $500 million. This historic flood broke records that date back more than 100 years. High water readings at 28 stream flow gage sites set new records.
Proenza noted, "During an event like that, the National Weather Service depends on the USGS network of stream flow gages for real-time monitoring which is critical to our capability to provide the emergency management community and the public with accurate stream and river flood forecasts and warnings".
In turn, the emergency managers depend on the stream flow data and National Weather Service forecasts and warnings for their own decision making. During this historic flood event, 20 of the 28 gages went underwater.
It was the men and women of the Surface Water Division of USGS Georgia Science Center who risked life and limb working in the extremely hazardous weather and flood conditions, to repair or replace the lost and damaged gages.
The Science Center team worked day and night for 48 hours to get the gages back on line, providing record level stream flow measurements to the National Weather Service and emergency managers, which was critical for warning decisions and public awareness to save lives and property.
(L to R) Southeast River Forecast Center HIC John Feldt, Peachtree City forecast office Senior Service Hydrologist Kent Frantz, Southern Region Director Bill Proenza, USGS Science Center Director Ed Martin, Science Center Surface Water Data Chief Brian McCallum and Peachtree City Meteorologist-in-Charge Lans Rothfusz (Photo: WFO Peachtree City)