Ohio, W.Va. weather observers earn awards

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SILVER SPRING, Md. – Officials from The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service will present the prestigious Thomas Jefferson and John Campanius Holm awards to some of the 11,000 volunteer cooperative weather observers in honor of their dedicated efforts to collect critical weather data.

Ray Diederich of North Ridgeville, Ohio, will receive the Jefferson award; Jon L. Bonnell of West Union, W.Va., and Lot L. Smith of Columbus, Ohio, earned the Holm award.

Ceremonies will be held in local communities across the nation. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is an agency of the Commerce Department.

These observers include teachers, farmers, construction workers, retirees, and others in their professional lives, but their shared commitment to weather data collection has led them to volunteer as cooperative observers.

The weather data they collect is critical to the National Weather Service’s forecasts of weather, water and climate conditions, severe weather and flood warnings, and long-term climate analysis.

The Jefferson and Holm awards were created in 1959 to recognize weather observers for outstanding achievements in the field of meteorological observation.

The Jefferson award requires an extended record of quality observations, with many winners having served for over 50 years. Thomas Jefferson maintained an almost unbroken record of weather observations between 1776 and 1816.

The Holm award is presented for quality observation records. 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.

Observers record precipitation, temperature, soil temperature, agricultural data, water equivalent of snow on the ground, river stages, and lake levels. These data are invaluable in learning more about droughts, floods, and heat and cold waves.

The information is also used in agricultural planning and assessment, engineering, utilities planning and more.

Satellites, radars 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.

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.

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