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NOAA News Releases 2003
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Henry Cordes of Cordez, Ariz., recently received a 65-year length of service award commemorating his record as the state’s most tenured cooperative weather observer from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS).
Cordes, a retired rancher and businessman, was presented the General Albert Myers Award on Sept. 25 by officials from the NWS forecast office in Flagstaff. Cordes was honored for his 65 years as an individual observer and his family’s 78 years of dedicated service to the Cooperative Weather Observer Program (COOP) in northern Arizona. The award was named after Albert J. Meyer, a weather observer at Eagle Pass, Texas. In 1870, Meyer was appointed to establish and direct the “Division of Telegrams and Reports for the Benefit of Commerce,” now known as the NWS.

Flagstaff Meteorologist-in-Charge Brian Klimowski cited the family’s long-term volunteer service to the nation for keeping records of precipitation and temperatures. The family began keeping official weather records in the community of Cordes in 1923 when the honoree’s father, Charles H. Cordes, took the first official precipitation observations. Charles Cordes then added temperature observations in 1938. The Cordes’ weather station is about 25 miles southeast of Prescott in Yavapai County.

Klimowski said, “Henry recalls helping his father with the observations as early as 1925 and later assumed the position as the official weather observer from his dad on August 1,1938.” Today, his daughter, Patsy Cordes McDonald, assists with the family’s tradition of continued weather observing. Henry and his family have provided dependable, accurate and timely weather observations that have defined the climate near their site more than three-quarters of a century. The National Weather Service estimates Henry has taken more than 23,000 observations during his 65-year tenure. The Cordes’ family takes one weather observation each evening at this site.

Byron Peterson, the data acquisition program manager at the forecast office in Flagstaff, added, “We have approximately 200 weather observers in the state of Arizona and Henry holds the state’s individual observer longest service record with his 65-year tenure. His measurements and observations provide important data to our meteorologists who use this ground truth to track weather trends throughout the state. As we look back over the years of weather records for Arizona, the weather station at Cordez has always played a prominent role in our overall climate records.”

Henry Cordes has never missed a temperature and precipitation observation, and, since 1958, never turned in a report late to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. In 1981, he received the John Campanius Holm award for outstanding continuous climate observations and in 1989, he received the Thomas Jefferson national observer award.

Klimowski said the nation’s first network of cooperative weather stations was set up as a result of an act of Congress in 1890. Many stations began operating long before that time, however, with John Campanius Holm's documenting weather records in 1644 - 45. Benjamin Franklin maintained weather records and Thomas Jefferson had an almost unbroken record of observations between 1776 and 1816. George Washington took his last observation just a few days before he died.

The cooperative observer program is the nation's weather and climate observing network made up of more than 11,700 volunteers. Today’s cooperative observer provides observational meteorological data, consisting of daily maximum and minimum temperatures and 24-hour precipitation totals, required to define the climate of the United States and to help measure long-term climate changes. Weather observers also notify the forecast office to report significant weather situations. Once the NWS certifies the climate data, often it is used by agricultural planners, engineers, environmental- impact assessment specialists, utilities and within the litigation community. The data becomes part of the nation’s historical weather and climate archive and plays a critical role in efforts to recognize and evaluate the extent of human impacts on climate from local to global scales.

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

The Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (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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