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Contact: Curtis Carey
News Releases 2002
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Officials from NOAA’s National Weather Service will present the prestigious Thomas Jefferson and John Campanius Holm awards to some of the 11,000 volunteer cooperative weather observers in honor of their dedicated efforts to collect critical weather data. Ceremonies will be held in local communities across the nation. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is an agency of the Commerce Department.
These observers include teachers, farmers, construction workers, retirees, and others in their professional lives, but their shared commitment to weather data collection has led them to volunteer as cooperative observers. The weather data they collect is critical to the National Weather Service’s forecasts of weather, water and climate conditions, severe weather and flood warnings, and long-term climate analysis.
The Jefferson and Holm Awards were created in 1959 to recognize weather observers for outstanding achievements in the field of meteorological observation. The Jefferson Award requires an extended record of quality observations, with many winners having served for over 50 years. Thomas Jefferson maintained an almost unbroken record of weather observations between 1776 and 1816. The Holm Award is presented for quality observation records. John Campanius Holm's weather records, taken without benefit of instruments in 1644 and 1645, were the earliest known recorded observations in the United States.
“Our cooperative observers are the heros of the National Weather Service,” declared retired Air Force Brig. Gen Jack Kelly, NOAA Weather Service director. “Their efforts are truly amazing when you consider some of these weather sites have been monitored by several generations in a family, with records going back over 100 years.”
Observers record precipitation, temperature, soil temperature, agricultural data, water equivalent of snow on the ground, river stages, and lake levels. These data are invaluable in learning more about droughts, floods, and heat and cold waves. The information is also used in agricultural planning and assessment, engineering, utilities planning and more.
Satellites, radars and other technological breakthroughs have brought great benefits to the Nation in terms of better forecasts and warnings. But without the century-long accumulation of accurate weather observations taken by volunteer observers, scientists could not begin to adequately describe the climate of the United States. Long and continuous records provide an accurate “picture” of a locale’s normal weather, and give climatologists and others a basis for predicting future trends. These data are invaluable for scientists studying floods, droughts and heat and cold waves.
NOAA recently began reviewing ways to modernize the century old program. A modernized COOP network will benefit the nation by providing an integrated surface monitoring network delivering unprecedented real-time monitoring of weather and climate conditions.
Weather and climate sensitive industries account for about 25 percent of the Nations’ GDP, or $2.7 trillion, ranging from finance, insurance, and real estate, to services, retail and wholesale trade and manufacturing. Improved forecasts correlate with tremendous savings. For example, the annual cost of electricity could decrease by at least $1 billion if the accuracy of weather forecasts improved 1 degree Fahrenheit.
2002 Jefferson Award Winners
2002 Holm Award Winners
NOAA's National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. The NOAA Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy.
For more information on the COOP program: