(L - R) Little Rock MIC Renee Fair; John Hicks, Community Affairs Specialist for U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln; Brother Anselm Allen; Tim Gehring, Arkansas Dept. of Emergency Management; Little Rock WCM John Robinson; and, Sean Clarke, Acting Observation Program Leader (Photo: WFO Little Rock)
(Nov. 20, 2010) - The National Weather Service forecast office in Little Rock presented the Richard H. Hagemeyer award to Brother Anselm Allen, a Benedictine monk at the Subiaco Abbey in west central Arkansas. The award recognizes his 45 years of service as a cooperative weather observer.
The abbey was established by a priest and two monks who traveled from Indiana in the spring of 1878. Official observations at the abbey began in 1897, with priests or monks taking the observations over the years. Brother Allen has the longest record of service of any of the observers. On one occasion, he was the first to spot and report a tornado.
In addition to his religious and weather duties, Brother Allen is an amateur radio operator, manager of the abbey's water plant and a firefighter who has responded to fires at the abbey and the town of Subiaco.
When asked what happens if a fire alarm comes in during prayer time, Brother Allen replied simply, "We go".
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, nearly 11,000 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.