San Angelo MIC Steve Lyons (right) presents Richard Hagemeyer Award to Gail Mittel (Photo: WFO San Angelo)
(Aug.16, 2012) - National Weather Service officials have named Eldorado, Texas resident Gail Mittel as a recipient of the Richard H. Hagemeyer Award. This prestigious award is given to cooperative weather observers for 45 years of service.
The award was presented by Steve Lyons, meteorologist-in-charge of the National Weather Service forecast office in San Angelo.
"Cooperative observers are the bedrock of weather data collection and analysis," said Lyons. "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, scientists could not begin to adequately describe the climate of the United States."
Gail Mittel is typical of the thousands of cooperative observers who have given generously of their time and energy because of their interest in weather and dedication to their community and 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 NWS 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.
While the first network of cooperative stations was developed as a result of an act of Congress that established the U.S. Weather Bureau in 1890, many stations actually began operating long before that time. The earliest known observations in the United States were taken by observer John Campanius Holm in 1644-45.
Some of the more notable early observers included George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. In fact, Jefferson maintained an almost unbroken record of weather observations between 1776 and 1816, and George Washington took his last observation just a few days before he died.