The U.S. Department of Commerce has awarded its prestigious Bronze Medal to the staff of NOAA’s Hastings, Neb., weather forecast office for efforts warning the public before and during the Nov. 27-28, 2005, ice storm and blizzard in the central United States. The Department presented the joint organization Bronze Medal to the staffs at Hastings and five other National Weather Service offices in Nebraska, Kansas and South Dakota for exemplary foresight in relaying life-saving information to the public during one of the busiest travel periods of the year.
            “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. “This Bronze Medal demonstrates the hard work of the staffs at Hastings and the five other forecast offices to accomplish this goal in a critical situation.”
            Retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator, today presented the award 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.
            The six weather forecast staffs provided exemplary service during "a winter storm … that resulted in hundreds of miles of road closures and damages exceeding $20 million,” according to the citation. Hazardous Weather Outlooks highlighted the potential (of the storm) four days prior to the event and maintained a continuous flow of information to state and local officials, the media and the public. Now-retired Central Region Deputy Director Gary S. Foltz nominated the forecast staffs for the award.
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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