About Sherry Chen
Sherry Chen is a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Beijing, China. She worked for the Department of Natural Resources in Missouri for over 11 years before moving to the Ohio River Forecast Center (OHRFC) of the National Weather Service in March 2007.
Sherry’s primary work was to develop and implement the Ohio River Community HEC-RAS Model, which was the largest of its kind in the nation at that time. The goal of the computer model is to significantly improve flood prediction for over 2,000 miles along the Ohio River and its tributaries. The modeling effort is a critical part of the joint mission of OHRFC and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Sherry worked tirelessly in her job as a critical member of the OHRFC team, to the point of developing carpal-tunnel syndrome in her right hand fingers because of repeated mouse clicks.
Substantial geographic information system (GIS) work must be done to geo-referencing the channel cross-section data and extend the cross-sections into floodplain areas, including levees and dams that protect communities from flooding, bridges, and off-channel storage areas. She was the hydraulic modeler in the team, responsible for setting up the model in great detail. Inches matter because it represents the difference between levees being breached or not. Levee failure can lead to significant loss of property and, possibly, lives.
Sherry must attend to details and get the details right. Everyone she worked with, including many from USACE know this about Sherry. The efforts of the team’s hard work paid off when it received the 2011 National Weather Association Larry R. Johnson Special Award “for development of and operational success with the Ohio River Community HEC-RAS Model during May 2011 Ohio and Mississippi River flooding." Sherry worked many long hours during a critical period of the record-setting flood event to get the best possible model results to aid the USACE in their operational decision-making process.