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NOAA NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TO HOST SEVERE WEATHER AND
WILDFIRE AWARENESS WEEK IN PACIFIC NORTHWEST

NOAA image of Incident Meteorologist, or IMET, Chuck Redman from the NOAA National Weather Service forecast office in Boise, Idaho, setting up the FireRAWS equipment near a wildfire in 2003.May 6, 2005 The NOAA National Weather Service forecast offices in the Pacific Northwest will host the first region-wide Severe Weather and Wildfire Awareness Week from May 9-15, 2005. The effort is to raise public attention to the dangers of severe weather and wildfires in the Pacific Northwest and provide information to help protect life and property. (Click NOAA image for larger view of Incident Meteorologist, or IMET, Chuck Redman from the NOAA National Weather Service forecast office in Boise, Idaho, setting up the FireRAWS equipment near a wildfire in 2003. Click here for high resolution version, which is a large file. Please credit “NOAA.”)

"Education is key to a successful forecast and warning process and is the goal of this awareness week," said retired Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, director of the NOAA National Weather Service. "When National Weather Service forecasters warn the public of severe weather or wildfire hazards, it's important for citizens to know how to react in order to protect themselves and their property."

"Some people incorrectly believe that the Pacific Northwest does not get severe weather," said John Livingston, meteorologist-in-charge of the NOAA National Weather Service forecast office in Spokane, Wash. "Yet, history shows this region does get severe weather, including tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and flash floods."

"Wildfires are a perennial hazard in the Pacific Northwest," added John Jannuzzi meteorologist-in-charge of the NOAA National Weather Service forecast office in Boise, Idaho. "With most of the Northwest in severe to extreme drought conditions, wildfires may be a significant hazard this summer and fall."

Topics to be covered during Severe Weather and Wildfire Awareness Week:

Monday, May 9: Flood and Flash Flood Safety
The Pacific Northwest is coming out of one of its driest winters on record. Nonetheless in the midst of a drought, summer thunderstorms can still produce heavy rain and local flash flooding as the hardened ground cannot absorb the sudden downpours. Even in a drought, floods and flash floods can claim lives.

Tuesday, May 10: Tornadoes, Tornado Safety, Special Marine Warnings
Tornadoes are not limited to "Tornado Alley" in the central United States. Rather tornadoes and their ocean and lake equivalent, waterspouts, do occur in the Pacific Northwest and can lead to fatalities and property damage.

Wednesday, May 11: Wind, Hail, Lightning Safety
Thunderstorms produce many hazards, including damaging winds, large hail and potentially deadly lightning, but there are safety measures that can be taken to decrease the odds of becoming a victim.

Thursday, May 12: Wildland Fire Awareness
Weather plays a large role in the ignition and spread of wildfires. Lightning from thunderstorms can ignite fires, and gusty winds can help the fire spread. The NOAA National Weather Service works closely with land management agencies to help suppress wildfires and keep firefighters safe.

Friday, May 13: Watch and Warning Program
The NOAA National Weather Service issues Outlooks, Watches and Warnings to alert the public when severe weather or dangerous wildfire conditions are expected. Outlooks and watches are issued for the potential of severe weather within the next few days or even hours. A warning is an urgent message that severe weather or potentially dangerous wildfire conditions are imminent or occurring.

Saturday, May 14: NOAA Weather Radio All-Hazards Information
NOAA Weather Radio All-Hazards provides immediate broadcasts of warnings and information pertaining to severe weather and civil emergencies. More than 90 percent of the population in the Pacific Northwest is within broadcast reception of NOAA Weather Radio. Receivers can be purchased online and at most electronic retailers.

The NOAA National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. The NOAA 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. Department of Commerce, 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.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA National Weather Service

NOAA National Weather Service Safety Tips

NOAA Storm Prediction Center

NOAA Fire Weather Information Center

NOAA Storm Watch

Media Contact:
Ted Buehner, NOAA National Weather Service Seattle, Wash., forecast office, (206) 526-6095 ext. 223 or Chris Vaccaro, NOAA National Weather Service, (301) 713-0622 ext. 134