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Contact: Becky Klenk and Pat Slattery
News Releases 2003
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VALLEY WATER USERS HONORED FOR CONTRIBUTIONS
91 years of dedication, the NOAA
National Weather Service has named the Uncompahgre Valley Water
Users as a 2003 recipient of the agency’s John Campanious Holm
Award for outstanding service in the Cooperative
Weather Observer program. The award is the agency’s second
most prestigious, and only 19 are presented this year to deserving
cooperative weather observers from around the country. The National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is part of the U.S.
Department of Commerce.
Many of the cooperative stations have collected data from the same location for more than a century; in some cases, several generations of a family have given up vacations and braved all kinds of extreme conditions to report weather conditions. Most observers record precipitation and temperature data. The Uncompahgre Valley Water Users site was established as Montrose No. 2 station in January 1911, providing daily precipitation, temperature and snow data to the Weather Service.
Some observers also record or report additional information such as soil temperature, evaporation and wind movement, agricultural data, water equivalent of snow on the ground, river stages and lake levels. This data is 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.
Why do they do it? Some simply have a real interest in weather. Others see their service as a civic duty. Uncompaghre Valley Water Users management and staff are continuing a long-standing tradition. The location was first established as a temperature and rainfall recording site for the U.S. Army Signal Corps on Feb. 1, 1885.
The National Weather Service usually provides and maintains the equipment used in the climatic and hydrologic networks. At the end of each month, observers mail their records to the National Climatic Data Center for publication in “Climatological Data” or “Hourly Precipitation Data,” both published by the NCDC.
Satellites, high-speed computers, mathematical models, 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.
Like fine wine, weather records become more valuable with age. 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.
The first extensive network of cooperative stations was set up in the 1890s as a result of an 1890 act of Congress that established the U.S. Weather Bureau. Many of the stations have even longer histories. John Campanious Holm’s weather records, taken without benefit of instruments in 1644 and 1645, were the earliest known recorded observations in the United States.
Many historic figures have also maintained weather records, including Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson maintained an almost unbroken record of weather observations between 1776 and 1816, and Washington took weather observations just a few days before he died. The Jefferson and Holm awards are named for these weather observation pioneers.
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. To learn more about NOAA, please visit the Web site at: http://www.noaa.gov.
On the Web:
National Weather Service: http://www.nws.noaa.gov
Cooperative Weather Observer program: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/coop/
National Climatic Data Center: http://lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/ncdc.html