The National Weather Service is charged by law with the responsibility of issuing forecasts and warnings of floods to the nation to help save lives and mitigate property damage. This mission falls under the authority of the River and Flood Program of the National Weather Service. The duty is executed by Weather Service Forecast Offices and is supported by River Forecast Centers, regional and field offices, and the national headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. The intent of this paper, the first in a series of three, is to present a broad overview of the history of the River and Flood Program, how it evolved, some of the functions and responsibilities of the different offices involved in the program, and the coordination efforts required to fulfill its mission of providing a quality service of hydrologic forecasting.

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