NOAA 03-R299-57
Contact: Pat Slattery
NOAA News Releases 2003
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The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s National Weather Service (NWS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, will present its prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award to veteran weather observer John M. Kelly of Moulton, Ala. A member of the NWS Cooperative Observer Program for 46 years, Kelly will be honored at an awards ceremony, 11:00 a.m. (CST) on December 11, 2003, at the Lawrence County Emergency Management Agency office in Moulton.

The Thomas Jefferson Award was created in 1959 to recognize weather observers for outstanding achievements in the field of meteorological observation.

Bill Proenza, director of the NWS Southern Region, said, “Kelly, and the thousands of the cooperative observers across the nation, give generously of their time and energy because of their interest in weather and dedication to our country. We honor them and thank them for their commitment.”

Considered a consummate professional by the staff at the Weather Forecast Office (WFO) in Huntsville, Kelly is lauded for providing consistent, accurate and reliable records that are critical to the office’s climatological needs. He has recorded and reported his observations continuously for nearly a half century – regardless of harsh weather extremes common to northern Alabama. At 79, Kelly continues to be a reliable source of information in spite of recent health concerns.

In addition to providing crucial data for WFO Huntsville, Kelly’s observations are used extensively by the local news media. They are also used to help individuals and companies in Alabama better understand and utilize climate data for important agricultural and business decisions.

Kelly is also a recipient of the NWS’ John Campanius Holm Award (1996) which is only given to 25 cooperative observers across the nation annually.

Holm is credited with making the earliest (1644 - 1645) recorded weather observations in the United States. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson followed in his footsteps. Jefferson maintained an almost unbroken record of daily weather observations from 1776 to 1816.

The act of Congress that established the Weather Bureau in 1890 also created the first extensive network of cooperative observation stations. Today, the Cooperative Weather Observer Program has more than 11,000 volunteer observers, who record daily temperature and precipitation readings providing researchers and NWS meteorologists with continuous observational data.

Many of the observers also record soil temperature, evaporation, wind movement and agricultural data as well as monitoring river stages and lake levels. The data is invaluable in the study of climate, droughts, floods and heat and cold waves.

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

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 the nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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