VIA NWS RIVERTON, WY – Recognizing 22 years of service to America, NOAA’s National Weather Service has named Verne Waldner of Wamsutter a 2015 recipient of the agency’s John Campanius Holm Award for outstanding service in the Cooperative Weather Observer Program. The award is the agency’s second most prestigious. Only 25 of the awards will be given this year to a select group of exceptionally dedicated cooperative weather observers from around the country.
“Even with the technological advances of the last 10 to 20 years, the cooperative observers remain the foundation of weather data collection and analysis,” said Chris Jones, acting Meteorologist in Charge of the Riverton National Weather Service office. “These observations not only assist scientists in better understanding the climate of the United States, they can assist us in improving day-to-day forecasts. We are extremely grateful for the many hours that Mr. Waldner has dedicated to this mission over the past 22 years.”
Jones and Riverton NWS Data Acquisition Program Manager Ralph Estell will present the award to Mr. Waldner at his residence during a ceremony at 11 am, on Tuesday, September 22.
The National Weather Service’s Cooperative Weather Observer Program has given scientists and researchers continuous observational data since the program’s inception more than a century ago. Today, some 9,000 volunteer observers, 125 of which are located in Wyoming, 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.
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, heat waves, and cold snaps. At the end of each month, the observer’s records are collected by 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. The namesake of the award, John Campanius Holm, was a Swedish Lutheran minister who recorded daily weather observations near Wilmington, Delaware in 1644 and 1645. His observations were the earliest known to be recorded 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.