NOAA 2004-R299-41
Contact: Greg Romano

NOAA News Releases 2004
NOAA Home Page
NOAA Public Affairs


Recognizing 50 years of dedicated service, NOAA’s National Weather Service has named Mount Ida, Ark., resident William E. Black as a 2004 recipient of the agency’s John Campanius Holm Award. This year's coveted Holm Award is being presented to 25 people who have performed exceptional volunteer service as a weather observer. NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“Cooperative observers are the bedrock of weather data collection and analysis,” said Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “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.”

Renee Fair, meteorologist-in-charge of the NWS Little Rock Weather Forecast Office, will present the award during a ceremony to be held Friday, Nov. 19, at 1:00 p.m. (CST) in the Montgomery County Courthouse in Mount Ida, Ark.

The timeliness, accuracy and attention to detail in Black’s reports are recognized as among the best in the cooperative observer network. His commitment to the cooperative observer program is also evident in the measures he takes to assure someone is available to make and report the daily observations on the rare occasions when he is unable to do it himself. In addition to his excellent support of the National Weather Service, he has a long history of service to Montgomery County where he has served as the Sheriff, County Clerk and County Judge.

The NWS Cooperative Weather Observer Program has given scientists and researchers continuous observational data since the program’s inception more than 100 years ago. Today, more than 11,000 volunteer observers participate in the nationwide program to provide daily reports on temperature, precipitation and other weather factors such as snow depth, river levels and soil temperature.

Weather records become more valuable with age. Long and continuous records provide an accurate picture of a locale’s normal weather, providing climatologists and others a basis for predicting future trends. 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.”

The earliest known recorded observations in the United States were made by John Campanius Holm in 1644 and 1645. 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 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

NOAA’s National Weather Service is the primary source of 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.

On the Web:


National Weather Service:

NWS Southern Region: