NOAA 2005-R207
Contact: Greg Romano
NOAA News Releases 2004
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Recognizing more than 97 years of service to America, NOAA’s National Weather Service has named John L. Stoner, of Townsend, Mont., and Edmund Somerfield of Power, Mont., as 2004 recipient’s of the agency’s John Campanius Holm Award for outstanding service in the Cooperative Weather Observer program. Joseph Vavrovsky of Moccasin, Mont., is also being honored as a 2003 winner of the prestigious award. The award is the agency’s second most prestigious and only 25 are presented each year nationwide. 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 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.”

Steve Brueske, meteorologist-in-charge, of the NWS Forecast Office in Great Falls will present the award during a ceremony held at 11 a.m., on January 20, 2005 at the Crystal Inn of Great Falls. Edward T. Kurdy, Cooperative Program Manager of the Great Falls office, nominated the recipients for the awards.

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.

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. At the end of each month, observers mail their records to NOAA’s 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, now NOAA’s National Weather Service. 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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