National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
NWS COO John Murphy holds the award alongside former National Hurricane Center Directors Bill Read (left) and Dr. Rick Knabb (right) 

NOAA's National Weather Service was presented with the National Hurricane Conference "Outstanding Achievement Award" during a presentation at its annual conference on March 28th in Orlando, Florida. John Murphy, NWS COO, accepted the award on behalf of the agency.

The prestigious award recognizes the outstanding achievement of operationally implementing new, official, storm surge watches and warnings in 2017 for the U.S East and Gulf coasts. Storm surge has historically been the deadliest hurricane hazard overall and is the primary reason evacuations are called in advance of hurricanes. However, unlike nearly every other weather hazard, it did not have its own warning in the U.S.

The storm surge watches and warnings culminated a 10-year effort to overhaul storm surge products, services, and communication. Despite four land-falling tropical cyclones in 2017, three of which were major hurricanes on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, there are currently no known U.S. deaths attributable to storm surge. Compare this to 2012, when storm surge from Hurricane Sandy (Category 1 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale) was responsible for 41 deaths. Reduced over-evacuations were also noted by our partners within the Emergency Management community.