NOAA 2006-R202
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NOAA News Releases 2006
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Recognizing 55 years of service to America, NOAA’s National Weather Service has named Johnson Ranch, N.M. resident Clara Johnson a 2005 recipient of the prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award for outstanding service in the Cooperative Weather Observer Program. The award will be presented by Albuquerque Weather Forecast Office Observation Program leader Joseph Alfieri on Sunday, January 29.

“Cooperative observers are the bedrock of weather data collection and analysis,” said retired Air Force Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, 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.”

Bill Proenza, director of the National Weather Service Southern Region said, “Johnson and the thousands of cooperative observers across the nation give generously of their time and energy because of their interest in weather and dedication to our country. We honor them and thank them for their commitment.”

Johnson is also a recipient of the National Weather Service’s John Campanius Holm Award (1995) which is given to 25 cooperative observers across the nation annually. She has shown unusual effort to continuously provide accurate, timely observations despite illnesses, emergency absences or equipment problems.

In addition to providing outstanding service to the National Weather Service, Johnson has been very active in local and state politics as well as church activities. She served two terms as the chairperson of the Sandoval County Republican Party and is a charter member of the Cuba Baptist Church.

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 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 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.

The National Weather Service is an office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department. 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 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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