(L-R) NWS Southern Region SOD Chief John Duxbury, WFO New Braunfels HMT Patrick McDonald, Charlene Fischer, New Braunfels MIC Joe Arellano, Jr., Southern Region Coop. Program Mgr. Mike Asmus, and New Braunfels Observation Program Leader Steve Smart (Photo by WFO New Braunfels).
(Nov.16, 2011) -- Recognizing 35 years of dedicated service, National Weather Service officials have named Fischer, Texas resident Charlene Fischer as a recipient of the agency's John Campanius Holm Award. While her personal record as a National Weather Service volunteer observer is outstanding, she is actually the fifth generation in a line of official Fischer family observers that date back to 1890.
The prestigious Holm Award is presented annually to people who have performed exceptional volunteer service as a weather observer. Charlene Fischer and her family have been responsible for an unbroken rainfall record during the past 120 years.
Joe Arellano, meteorologist-in-charge of the National Weather Service forecast office in New Braunfels, Texas presented the award during a special ceremony in front of the historic Fischer store and museum.
"Cooperative observers are the bedrock of weather data collection and analysis," said Arellano. "Satellites, high-speed computers, mathematical models and other technological breakthroughs have brought great benefits in terms of better forecasts and warnings. But, without the century-long accumulation of accurate weather observations taken by volunteer observers like the Fischers, scientists could not begin to adequately describe the climate of the United States."
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's Cooperative Weather Observer Program is a unique partnership between the National Weather Service and citizen volunteers in every U.S. state and territory. It has given scientists and researchers continuous weather data since the program’s inception in 1890. Today, more than 10,000 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.
The first extensive network of cooperative stations was set up in the 1890s as a result of an 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. Other 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 up to the last few days of his life.