NOAA 2005-R205
Contact: Greg Romano
NOAA News Releases 2004
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Recognizing 56 years of dedication, NOAA’s National Weather Service has named George S. Hatch of Koosharem, Utah, a 2004 recipient of the agency’s Thomas Jefferson Award for outstanding service in the Cooperative Weather Observer program. The award is the agency’s most prestigious, and only 11 were awarded in 2004 to deserving cooperative weather observers in the country. NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is an 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.”

James Campbell, deputy director of the NWS Western Region, and Larry Dunn, meteorologist-in-charge of the Salt Lake City Weather Forecast Office, will present the award during a ceremony scheduled for 11 a.m., Jan. 14, 2005 at the Koosharem Elementary School in Koosharem, Utah. Hatch, as a senior citizen, eats lunch each day with the students and wishes to receive his award with his young friends. Hatch hopes to demonstrate to the students how he takes weather observations using some of the NWS equipment.

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, monitor river levels, and soil temperature.

Hatch has received several other NWS cooperative observer honors. These include the John Campanius Holm Award for outstanding service in 1979, the Stoll Award (50 years of service) in 1998 and the Benjamin Franklin Award (55 years of service) in 2003.

Hatch has seen his share of weather extremes during the past 56 years. In fact, Koosharem’s 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.” According to NWS records, that is the coldest temperature ever recorded in Koosharem.

Weather records become 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 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 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.

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