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Home2019 Conference Recap


Please visit the following pages for more information on the 2019 NHWC Conference:
2019 Conference Final Program
2019 Conference Presentations
2019 NHWC Conference Photo Album

Review written by Benjamin A. Pratt, PE, CFM
NHWC Treasurer & 2019 Conference Committee Member
Susquehanna River Basin Commission
Andrew Motte’s 1729 translation of Sir Isaac Newton’s “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica” states the 2nd Law of Motion as “the alteration of motion is ever proportional to the motive force impressed; and is made in the direction of the right line in which that force is impressed.”   
As our recent week together in Louisville progressed, I recognized a surge of energy into our organization that is sure to be the motive force to place the National Hydrologic Warning Council on a positive trajectory for the coming years.  This surge was evident in the jam-packed technical agenda, the networking opportunities around the technical sessions, the numerous sidebar conversations in the hallway, the dedicated commitment from our sponsors and all the vendors, and the general enthusiasm of all attendees (despite the construction noise).  Our conference, which convened June 16-20, 2019 at the Galt House Hotel, in Louisville Kentucky, while not without its challenges, provided all attendees ample opportunity to learn and grow as professionals and will be remembered for the “right line” on which we’ve been placed. 

As Louisville is home to the Kentucky Derby, our conference them“Observe, Disseminate, Respond:  The Triple Crown” describes the foundation on which all of our values as a profession are built.  Having sat through as many of the technical sessions at the conference as time would permit, the single word I find to capture the theme of the week is “innovation”.  During the plenary sessions we heard loud clear the innovative approaches Jose Luis Valenzuela is bringing to FEMA’s recovery process in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, as well as from Chad Wagner about the next generation of observation systems being deployed by the United States Geological Survey.   

Jose Luis Valenzuela, State Hazard Mitigation Officer for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, addresses conference attendees during the plenary session.

Robert Jarret presents on his evaluation of NOAA Atlas 14 and extreme precipitation events.
During the technical sessions I heard of development of low-cost sensors to detect flooding, new radio communication protocol allowing for transmission of complicated data streams, techniques to improve forecasting through data correction, issues and opportunities provided through the internet of things, and finally, a presentation on what the leaders of our industry are reading, so that we too can aspire to new heights.   I’m only scratching the surface here, as I’m one person and there were up to four tracks, but you can review all the presentations at our website in the coming weeks.

The technical sessions however, merely provided a propaedeutic pathway to the green pastures of networking opportunities the 13th Biennial NHWC conference provided.  Kicking things off Monday at the golf outing, formed a wolf pack of sorts that motored through the week’s slate together.  NHWC has a strange knack of attracting relatively extreme hydrologic events at conference time, and once again the Tuesday evening social fell victim to heavy rainfall and high flows (recall 2013 in Ponte Vedra).  Wisely, I believe, our Belle of Louisville Captain decided to keep us in port versus challenging the mighty Ohio River.  No problem though for a bunch of hardened flood hazard professionals, who simply reveled in the fact the event was someone else’s problem this time, and proceeded to dive into the Barbecue, Kentucky Mules, and great comradery the Middle and Upper Deck of the Belle offered. 

Tuesday evening social event on the Belle of Louisville

David Curtis presents Outstanding Service Awards to (left to right) Kevin Stewart, Andy Rooke, Steve Fitzgerald, and Josh McSwain.
Wednesday evening’s vendor recognition is always a great way to get hands-on with a variety of equipment and software our community provides and perhaps grab some swag to carry away.  Bringing it all home at the Banquet Thursday evening, we recognized the outstanding commitment and effort provided by our outgoing President Steve Fitzgerald, Vice-President Josh McSwain, and board members Andy Rooke and Kevin Stewart. Other award winners can be found in the side bar on page 4.  There were also some outstanding door prizes handed out, including a Yeti cooler, Bose wireless speaker, and a variety of gift baskets including one from Dan the Sausage Man.

To summarize here, the 13th Biennial National Hydrologic Warning Council, convened in Louisville Kentucky from June 16-20th, has surely set us on a right line toward our 14th Biennial, date and location TBD, but certainly in 2021 in the May-June timeframe.   None of this would have been possible without the hard work of the conference planning committee and the steadfast confident leadership of our Conference Chair.  Brad has agreed to Chair the 14th Biennial in 2021 and is already hard at work finding the perfect location for us to convene!  If you’re still reading this article, then you may have what it takes to get involved and be a part of the great team Brad will assemble to make the magic happen.  Feel free to reach out to Brad or any Board member to express any interest you may have in helping. I hope your experience at the 13th Biennial conference was informative and met your expectations, and I look forward to seeing you at future NHWC events!

The Author, serving as emcee of the Awards Banquet
Note from Brad Heilwagen, PE, CFM
NHWC 2015-2019 Secretary & 2019 NHWC Conference Chair
Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions, Inc.

Brad presents outgoing NHWC President Steve Fitzgerald with a token of our appreciation for his many years of service to NHWC during the Thursday night awards banquet

Brad facilitates the prize drawing during Wednesday night's exhibitor reception
To put together a conference of our size, it doesn't take an army, just a small group of dedicated individuals. I'd like to thank (in no particular order) James Stuart, Josh McSwain, Andy Rooke, Fritz Law, Bruce Rindahl, Steve Fitzgerald, Ben Pratt, Kevin Stewart, Chris Crompton, David Curtis, Brandon Terry, Scott Fant, Sharliss Arnold, April Krieg, and David Rivera for all their help over the last 18 months. This was my first ever conference planning effort, and they made it go smoothly.

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