NOAA 2005-R266
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NOAA News Releases 2005
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Recognizing more than 43 years of service to America, NOAA’s National Weather Service has named Harrington, Wash., resident Eugene Cronrath as a 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 award and only 11 were awarded in 2004 to deserving cooperative weather observers in the country. NOAA is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“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.”

John Livingston, meteorologist-in-charge of the Spokane, Wash., Weather Forecast Office, presented the award to Cronrath during a ceremony at City Hall in Harrington, Wash., today.

“We are pleased to recognize Gene Cronrath as one of the nation’s top cooperative weather observers,” Livingston said. “For more than 43 years, his accurate and timely weather reports have played a critical role in defining the climate and rainfall patterns of Lincoln County, and supported the National Weather Service forecasting and warning programs in the Columbia Basin of Washington.”

The National Weather Service Cooperative Weather Observer Program has given scientists and researchers continuous observational data since the program’s inception more than 100 years 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.

National Weather Service officials said the local weather monitoring station was established on Mar. 23, 1956 at the residence of Thelma Timm within the community limits of Harrington, about 60 miles west of Spokane. The station was moved to the Cronrath residence on Nov. 28, 1961.

“Gene Cronrath has a long and distinguished record as a weather observer, and the Jefferson Award is the most prestigious awards presented each year by NOAA’s National Weather Service, said Vickie Nadolski, director of the National Weather Service Western Region. “This is a great honor, and we salute his years of service to the agency.”

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.”

“Mr. Cronrath’s records are extremely accurate and timely. His reporting form is always received on time by the National Weather Service each month. He has taken observations continuously for the past 43 years in all types of weather including blizzards, floods, droughts and severe thunderstorms,” said Livingston.

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 and flood forecasts and warnings, and weather, water and climate information 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, 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.

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