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NOAA News Releases 2003
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George S. Hatch of Koosharem, Utah, received the Benjamin Franklin Award today from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS) in recognition of his 55 years of service to the agency as a Cooperative Weather Observer. NOAA is an agency of the Commerce Department.

James Campbell, Deputy Director of the NWS Western Region Headquarters in Salt Lake City, and Larry Dunn, Meteorologist in Charge of the Salt Lake City Weather Forecast Office, presented the award to Hatch at the Koosharem Elementary School. Hatch, eats lunch each day with the students and chose to receive his award with his young friends. Hatch also demonstrated to the students how he takes his weather observations using some of the National Weather Service equipment.

“Mr. Hatch’s award was one of three Benjamin Franklin honors granted regionally in 2003 by the National Weather Service and the only one in Utah,” said Campbell. “Cooperative weather observers provide a valuable service to our agency, our nation and the people who rely on their information. He has given dependable, accurate and timely weather observations that have defined the climate around central Utah since October 1948. We estimate he has taken more than 20,000 observations during his tenure.”

Hatch has received several other NWS cooperative observer honors. These include the John Campanius Holm Award for outstanding service in 1979, and the Stoll Award (50 years of service) in 1998. 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.

Campbell 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 through 1816. Washington took his last weather observations just a few days before he died.”

Campbell also noted, “George personifies the conscientious and unselfish weather observers imagined by former President 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 Salt Lake City’s Cooperative Program Manager Steve Summy, said, “Cooperative observers record weather at the same time every day and enter data for temperature, precipitation, snowfall and snow depth. Mr. Hatch has recorded 660 months of data which are now a permanent part of the nation’s climate record.”

Hatch has seen his share of weather extremes during the past 55 years. In fact, the highest and lowest temperatures for each month have been recorded at his station in Sevier County. When asked what weather stands out in his tenure, Hatch replied, “December 23, 1990 when the temperature dropped to 32 degrees below zero.” The NWS record books show that is the coldest temperature ever recorded in Koosharem.

Hatch also mentioned this July as a stand out. “We don’t see a lot of 90 degree days in Koosharem, but this July gave us fifteen of them.” The small town of Koosharem, located at an elevation of nearly 7,000 feet, normally has five days in July when the temperature warms to 90 degrees or higher.

Data collected by Hatch 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.

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