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NOAA News Releases 2005
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Recognizing more than 28 years of service to America, NOAA’s National Weather Service has named rural Towner, N.D., resident James Jansky a 2005 recipient of the agency’s John Campanius Holm Award for outstanding service in the Cooperative Weather Observer Program. The award is the agency’s second most prestigious and only 25 are presented this year to deserving cooperative weather observers from around the country.

“Cooperative observers are the bedrock of weather data collection and analysis,” said retired 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.”

James Fors, meteorologist-in-charge of the National Weather Service office in Bismarck, N.D., will present the award to Jansky during a ceremony on August 26 at the National Guard Armory in Rugby, N.D. Program manager Sandra Wiche of the Bismarck office nominated Jansky for the award.

The National Weather Service Cooperative Weather Observer Program has given scientists and researchers continuous observational data since the program’s inception more than a century ago. Today, more than 11,700 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.

Jansky, a readiness technician with the U.S. Army National Guard, established the Towner 2NE station Dec. 1, 1976, with his wife, Sharon, as back up, reporting daily precipitation, temperature, snow and frost data. Program personnel at Bismarck provided Jansky with a frost depth probe at his request to help with spring runoff predictions.

Weather records became more valuable with age. Long and continuous records provide an accurate picture of a locale’s normal weather, and give 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 first extensive network of cooperative stations was formed as part of the newly established U.S. Weather Bureau, created in an 1890 act of Congress. Many of the stations have even longer histories. John Campanius Holm’s weather records, taken without benefit of instruments in 1644 and 1645, were the earliest known recorded observations in the United States.

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 Jefferson and Holm awards are named for these weather observation pioneers.

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.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, 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. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners and nearly 60 countries to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes.

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