Tuesday, December 25, 2001

Flood alert system’s
creator is honored

By Helen Altonn

Paul A. Jendrowski, science and operations officer at the National Weather Service's Honolulu Forecast Office for the past six years, has received the U.S. Commerce Department's highest honorary award.

He received the Gold Medal for developing a flash flood detection and diagnostic system that the National Weather Service is using nationally.

The new system, called AMBER -- Areal Mean Basin Estimated Rainfall -- will reduce deaths and economic losses from flooding by helping forecasters give earlier warnings for endangered locations, the weather service says.

AMBER computes rainfall estimates from Doppler radar data specifically for small stream areas.

Because of Hawaii's steep terrain, flash flooding can occur within 30 minutes after a heavy rainfall begins.

"Just a few extra minutes of advanced warning can mean the difference between life or death in some situations," said Jim Weyman, acting director of the National Weather Service in the Pacific region.

"Because the AMBER system helps provide this additional lead time and targets specific locations, it will be our primary forecast tool during this year's winter flood season."

The new system alerts meteorologists to the potential of flooding, enabling advance notice to the public and saving valuable time.

Jendrowski, who has worked 14 years for the National Weather Service, developed the software, defined stream basins and initiated AMBER in the Honolulu Forecast Office. He also installed the system at some mainland forecast offices, and the software is being used nationally.

Commerce Secretary Donald Evans presented Jendrowski's Gold Medal in a ceremony Nov. 7 in Washington, D.C. The secretary grants the award for extraordinary achievements that support the department's objectives and benefit the nation, and sometimes the world.

Jendrowski has worked 14 years for the National Weather Service, coming here from the forecast office in Pittsburgh, where he held the same position. He and his wife, Lynn, live in Hawaii Kai.

E-mail to City Desk

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