NOAA 2004-R212
Contact: Marilu Trainor
NOAA News Releases 2004
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NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) will present a special Public Appreciation Award to the National Park Service rangers who face record snowfalls and blizzard conditions to collect valuable weather data at
Mt. Rainier, Wash. This award will be presented to David Uberuaga, superintendent at Mt. Rainier National Park on Jan. 13, 2004. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Rainier Paradise Ranger Station, which has been an official NWS cooperative observer site since 1916, has the distinction of being one of the world’s snowiest stations on average. Uberuaga and the Park Rangers stationed at this park have faithfully recorded about 50,000 inches (4,200 feet) of snow since 1916. During winter and early summer months, this means trekking one-quarter mile over up to 25 feet of snowpack to reach the observing location.

“The park's weather observers have been taking observations for decades in some of the world's most challenging weather conditions,” said Science and Operations Officer Brad Colman of the Seattle NWS office. “This award recognizes their awesome efforts over such a long period of time.”

“Snowfall measurements from a mile high location are invaluable to the nation’s climate record,” said Robert Leffler, NWS climatologist, and himself a cooperative observer from the Washington, D.C., area. “The measurements taken at Mt. Rainier give us valuable knowledge about the climate of the Cascades and assist us in studying climate variability as it relates to climate phenomenon such as El Niño and La Niña.”

Andy Horvitz, National Cooperative Observer Program (COOP) manager praised the Mt. Rainier staff for their exceptional efforts to provide the nation with consistent, accurate, and reliable snowfall measurements for 87 years. “Their dedication is inspirational,” said Horvitz. “Despite weather conditions that would daunt most people, they persevere by strength and snowshoes in collecting this important information. Truly, their commitment epitomizes the proud tradition of the COOP program.”

The National Weather Service Cooperative Observer Program is the nation's weather and climate observing network made up of more than 11,700 volunteers. Many of today’s cooperative observers provide meteorological data, consisting of daily maximum and minimum temperatures, 24-hour precipitation totals, and snowfall and snow depth measurements essential to defining the climate of the United States and monitoring its climate variability and its long-term changes. Observers also notify the forecast office to report significant weather situations.

Once NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center certifies the climate data, it is often used by agricultural planners, engineers, environmental impact assessment specialists, utilities and within the legal profession. The data becomes part of the nation’s historical weather and climate archive and plays a critical role in efforts to understand and predict climate fluctuations over the United States on time scales of a few weeks to several years.

Modernization of the COOP observation stations is planned to provide the nation with a complete suite of high quality information continuously in real time and at more locations, enhancing their usefulness to government industry and the public. A demonstration project is underway in New England measuring hourly temperature and precipitation data at approximately 200 sites.

NOAA’s National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. The National Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world.

The Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 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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