NOAA 2003-R245
Contact: Marilu Trainor
NOAA News Releases 2003
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Harold Del Ponte of Klamath, Calif., received the Benjamin Franklin Award today from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Weather Service (NOAA Weather Service) in recognition of his 55 years of service to the agency as a Cooperative Weather Observer. NOAA is an agency of the Commerce Department.

Nancy Dean, meteorologist-in-charge of the NOAA Weather Service forecast office in Eureka, presented the award to Del Ponte at a family gathering in Crescent City.

“Mr. Del Ponte’s award was one of three Benjamin Franklin honors granted regionally in 2003 by the National Weather Service,” said Dean. “Cooperative weather observers provide a valuable service to our agency, our nation and the people who rely on their information. They’ve given dependable, accurate and timely weather observations that have defined the climate around northwest California since February 1947. We estimate he has taken nearly 20,000 observations during his tenure.”

Del Ponte has received several other NOAA Weather Service cooperative observer honors for length of service. These include the John Campanius Holm Award in 1970, the Thomas Jefferson Award in 1980, and the Stoll Award in 1997.

The Cooperative Weather Observer Program was established in the 1890s to provide data to the newly formed Weather Bureau, predecessor to the NWS. Today, the program comprises more than 11,000 volunteer observers, who record temperature and precipitation data daily.

Speaking at the ceremony, Dean said, “You have distinguished yourself by joining such notable American pioneers as Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson who maintained early weather records. Jefferson kept an almost unbroken record of observations from 1776 through1816. Washington took his last weather observations just a few days before he died.”

Dean also noted, “Harold personifies the conscientious and unselfish weather observers imagined by Thomas Jefferson when he envisioned a weather network across the United States. Clearly, he deserves the recognition this award bestows for the life long contribution to the nation’s climate record and this community.”

NWS Eureka’s cooperative program manager, Robert Ruehl, said, “Cooperative observers record weather at the same time every day and enter data for temperature, precipitation, snowfall and snow depth. Mr. Del Ponte has recorded 660 months of data which are now a permanent part of the nation’s climate record.”

Del Ponte supplied daily rainfall data to the Crescent City Daily Triplicate for over 20 years. He has been very active in the local community serving on or chairing numerous committees and boards. He volunteers with the local school district and county fair, and has received the Blue Ribbon Award from the Western Fair Association.

Data collected by Del Ponte benefits other federal, state, and local agencies including the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Geological Survey, and the Natural Resource Conservation Service which use the information to assist in water and irrigation management.

The NOAA National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories and 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.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.


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