NOAA's National Weather Service and City of Marietta, Ohio, Join Together to Improve Flood Forecasting

Actions Come in Wake of Hurricane Ivan's Record Flooding

WASHINGTON, Sept. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- NOAA's National Weather Service, the City of Marietta, the Marietta Community Foundation and the U.S. Geological Survey have funded and installed an automated river gauge for a new flood forecast point at the Marietta Pump House where the Muskingum and Ohio rivers meet in the City of Marietta. The forecast site will become the new official flood forecast site on September 21, 2005, improving National Weather Service flood forecasting for Marietta, Ohio.

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"On the one-year anniversary of the worst flood in Marietta, caused by Hurricane Ivan's ravage aftermath, this new automated gauge and forecast point at Marietta will improve flood forecast accuracy," said Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), director of NOAA's National Weather Service. "This is part of the National Weather Service's continuing effort to serve society's needs for weather, climate and water information."

More than 100 people, on average, lose their lives due to floods in the U.S. every year. Accurate flood forecasts provide valuable time for people to take action and help reduce loss of life and property.

Marietta's Mayor Michael Mullen noted, "After the devastating floods of last year, getting the public the most accurate information available was a priority for the City of Marietta. The reestablishment of this forecast point will sync up the traditional Marietta high-water benchmarks and the Corps of Engineers staff gauge with official National Weather Service data."

"The new automated gage is the best technology available using a 'smart gas' system and connects with the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite to transmit river level data once an hour rather than once every four hours," said Alan Rezek, meteorologist-in-charge of the National Weather Service office in Charleston, W.Va. "The smart gas system allows more accurate readings of water levels. The gauge is less likely to be damaged during a flood, therefore reducing maintenance costs."

The Marietta Pump House site is a forecast point included in the National Weather Service's Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, a web-based suite of accurate and timely forecasts related to hydrology. "A graphic and text display shows how long it will take the river to rise to flood stage, how high the river will rise and how long the flood will last whenever a flood forecast is issued," explained John Sikora, senior service hydrologist at the forecast office. Graphics showing the probability of flooding along the Ohio River during the next three months are also available from the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service.

NOAA's National Weather Service, the City of Marietta and the Marietta Community Foundation shared expenses for the new gauge, which will be maintained by the City of Marietta. The U.S. Geological Survey is providing the satellite data channel for the hourly gauge transmissions. Together, the NWS and the USGS assisted in the installation of the gauge and provided gauge maintenance training to city personnel.

NOAA's National Weather Service forecast office in Charleston, W.Va., provides full weather, water, and climate services for 49 counties in southeast Ohio, West Virginia, eastern Kentucky and southwest Virginia. The office collects meteorological data from a wide range of sources, prepares and disseminates weather and river forecasts, and issues watches and warnings to the public for severe weather, floods, and other hazardous weather conditions.

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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CONTACT: Marcie Katcher of NOAA National Weather Service, +1-631-265-2372

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