Coop Sites Climate Data
Richard G. Hendrickson
Coop Observer Extraordinaire
When Richard Hendrickson
took his first reading as a cooperative observer for the National Weather
Service, Herbert Hoover was president. The year was 1930 and twice a
day every day since then the Bridgehampton farmer has chronicled the
nation's climate history at his coop station in Bridgehampton, Long
Island. Hendrickson began his long career as a weather watcher when
a family friend, author Ernest S. Clowes, asked if he could set up an
observing station at the Hendrickson family farm. The future award winner
assisted in the twice-daily chore of tracking the weather and when Clowes
retired, the young man took over and Richard certainly did take over.
Awards are numerous:
- Thomas Jefferson Award 1975
Most Prestigious Award
- Edward H. Stoll Award 1984
50 yrs Dedicated Service
- Helmut E. Landsberg Award
1994 60 yrs Dedicated Service
- Albert J. Meyer Award 1997
65 yrs Dedicated Service
- Ruby Stufft Award 2001 70
yrs Dedicated Service
The Earl Stewart
Award is waiting in the wings. This is presented to observers for 75
years of service. Only 3 coop observers have served more than 75 years.
With his many years
of weather records, including notes on the great Long Island hurricane
of 1938 and east end snow storms over the years, Mr. Hendrickson has
compiled an amazing amount of historical weather information. In fact,
he authored a book "Winds of the Fishes Tail" which highlights his years
of observing the weather on Long Island's east end. Mr Hendrickson'
take on the weather is also widely read in a column carried in local
Long Island newspapers.
Recently, the National
Weather Service proposed a multi-year initiative to expand the existing
coop program and upgrade the equipment the volunteers use to monitor
temperature, precipitation and potentially other weather data. The modernization
of the Coop Network begin in New England and has extended into New York.
Richard has agreed to partcipate in the modernization and the new equipment
was installed on January 20th. It is a completely automated system which
will give us 5 minute data of temperature, and precipitation. The wind
sensors will be installed in the spring.
When Richard was
approach about the modernization of his station he did not hesitate
to volunteer. He simply said "It's what I do for my country." Need I
The National Weather Service Cooperative Program
Weather Service Cooperative Program is the cornerstone of the most important
and valuable climatological, hydrological and environmental monitoring
network in the world." John Grimes III, State Climatologist,
Louisiana State University
Over two centuries ago,
Thomas Jefferson envisioned a nationwide network of weather observers.
In 1776, he began to recruit volunteer weather observers throughout
Virginia. By 1816, he had also established a network of observers in
every county of Virginia. Also by 1800 there were volunteer weather
observers in 5 other states across the newborn nation. They included
Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New York, and North Carolina.
By 1891, the network of voluntary observers across the country had grown
to 2000 stations.
By 1890 the direction
of the growing volunteer force was taken over by the Smithsonian Institution;
however, it was not until 1953 that Dr. Helmut Landsberg of The Weather
Bureau conducted a study with Iowa State University to establish a scheme
to blanket the nation with a volunteer network. It was determined that
there should be one weather station every 25 miles for estimating rainfall
to acquire an accuracy tolerance of ten percent. With this blanket coverage
in mind, our cooperative weather observer network has grown to nearly
11000 stations today.
To date, Mr. Edward G.
Stoll who took weather observations for 76 years in Arapahoe, Nebraska,
has the longest history as a cooperative weather observer. Throughout
the nation, numerous families have continued their cooperative weather
observer duties for successive generations with some providing a century
or more of data.
It is estimated that the
cooperative observers donate their time to the tune of over a million
dollars a year making the National Weather Service Cooperative
Observer Program one of the nation's most cost effective government
The value of weather
data collected extending back over a hundred years is becoming more
and more valuable with the passage of time. The climatological database
generated through the efforts of the volunteer cooperative weather observer
provides not only the cornerstone of our nation's weather history; but
also, serves as the primary data for research into global climatic change.
Are You Interested in Becoming a Cooperative Weather
The Cooperative Observer Program
is a nation-wide network of volunteer observers who make daily reports
of rainfall, temperature, and river levels. These volunteers have a
long history of dedication to the program and their reports form the
basis for the climatology database for the country.
Each weather office
has responsibility for determining the need for new observers, recruiting
and training those observers, and maintaining the equipment used by
the observers, providing all supplies needed, and ensuring reports are
submitted in a timely manner and are accurate.
a need for an observer in a specific area, the National Weather Service
send a representative out to recruit an observer. The key objective
is to find an observer that is willing to make a long-term commitment
to providing daily reports each morning. Another important consideration
is the location available for instrument siting - it is important that
the instruments give representative readings for the area.
The importance of
the long term commitment cannot be under emphasized. It takes 30 years
of reports to form a valid climatology for a specific site. The Cooperative
Weather Observers must make arrangements for others to take daily readings
in the event the primary observer is out of town or otherwise unable
to make the reports.
Depending on the
location and needs of each office, equipment might include an instrument
shelter, maximum and minimum thermometers, rain gage, river gage, automated
thermometer system, and telephone to enter daily reports directly into
the computer system. In addition to daily reporting, a monthly form
is submitted through the local National Weather Service Office to the
National Climatic Data Center in
Asheville NC for archiving and publication.
If you are interested
in becoming a Cooperative
Weather Observer and have a site location that meets these instrument and exposure standards,
please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 631-924-0517