PUBLISHED: 11:12 AM on Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Elfin Cove residents honored by National Weather Service volunteer observer program
Benjamin Franklin.

George Washington.

Thomas Jefferson.

Mary Jo Lord-Wild.

For 30 years, the Elfin Cove resident, along with her husband Jim Wild, has joined the ranks of weather watchers who have maintained weather records.

And while not as famous as America's founding fathers, Lord-Wild was was named as a NOAA National Weather Service 2005 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 with only 25 presented this year to deserving cooperative weather observers around the country.

"Cooperative observers are the bedrock of weather data collection and analysis," said Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, USAF (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."

Kimberly Vaughan of the National Weather Service Alaska Region Juneau office nominated Mary Jo Lord-Wild for the award.

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 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.

Lord-Wild has voluntarily observed and reported daily weather conditions for 30 years. Wild's 25 years of dedication as a volunteer weather observer is also being recognized.

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 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.

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 data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. NOAA 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.