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NOAA News Releases 2005
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Recognizing nearly 40 years of service to America, NOAA’s National Weather Service has named San Miguel, Calif., resident Peggy Wolf as a 2005 recipient of the agency’s John Campanius Holm Award for outstanding service to the Cooperative Weather Observer Program. This is the agency’s second highest award and only 25 will be presented this year to deserving cooperative weather observers from around the country.

“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. We cannot thank Peggy Wolf enough for her years of service to America.”

Dessa Emch, observing program leader at the National Weather Service forecast office in Los Angeles, will present the award during a ceremony on December 13 in Paso Robles. Emch, who nominated Wolf, said, “Wolf is an exemplary volunteer weather observer, who has provided timely, accurate and dependable precipitation data to the National Weather Service for 37 years.”

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, some 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.

The Wolf family began making weather observations in October 1968. Weather observations in the area actually began some 65 years ago. The Wolfs took over the Valleton (now San Miguel) rain gauge after the Curtis family moved to Montana. The rain gauge was moved to the family’s Indian Valley property in Monterey County, then to its current location in San Luis Obispo County in 1973.

Wolf was honored for continuing the long-standing rainfall observation tradition for that area, which exemplifies National Weather Service observer dedication. Her ranching family has always maintained consistent and accurate climate records, since the livelihood of their ranch depends on weather and climate.

“Peggy Wolf is very conscientious and detail-oriented when it comes to weather observing,” said Mark Jackson, meteorologist-in-charge of the National Weather Service forecast office in Los Angeles. Don and Peggy Wolf have four children, who often volunteer their time by helping take weather observations. Their daughter Judy actually took over the observing obligations while she was in high school.

Weather records retain their importance as time goes by. 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. These data are invaluable for scientists studying floods, droughts and heat and cold waves. 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 set up in the 1890s as a result of an 1890 act of Congress that established the U.S. Weather Bureau. 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 official 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. Commerce Department, 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. 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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