Across the nation, volunteers take daily weather observations in the National Weather Service Cooperative Observer (Co-Op) Program. The Co-Op Program was created by Congress in 1890 in the Organic Act. There are more than 8,700 volunteer observers that take weather readings each day on farms, in urban and suburban areas, National Parks, seashores, and mountain tops.
Another Washington Co-Op site was awarded a rare award for providing 125 years of Co-Op weather observations. The National Weather Service (NWS) on behalf of the World Meteorological Organization recently presented the Heritage Farm in Clark County the National Centennial Weather Station Award for their long contribution for weather record collecting. There have been only 291 of these long-term weather stations in the world, 11 in the U.S. Olga on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands receive this award about 10 years ago.
The Heritage Farm, sitting just outside of the Vancouver city limits, has a deep history in Clark County. It began in the 1870s as a poor farm where people lived and worked for sustenance. It started participating in the Co-Op Observer Program in 1896. In the 1940s, Washington State University assumed the farm, using it as a research station until 2008, when it was turned over to Clark County. WSU continues to have an extension office on the farm today.
The award was presented to Annette Vary-Getty who currently takes the weather observations each morning at the farm. She measures high and low temperatures, rainfall, and new and total snow depths as needed. “It’s fun to look at weather records and see patterns,” said Vary-Getty.
Kristine Perry, interim county director for WSU Clark County Extension said, “I think we take it for granted sometimes. It’s so important to have this continuous stream of information. As our climate changes, there’s a place where we can get solid weather information that hasn’t been disturbed for over 125 years.”
Thomas Cuff, director of the NWS Office of Operations noted, “Long term measurements of weather provide the backbone for weather forecasting and climate science. Ensuring their long term sustainability is important for understanding how these might change in the future.”
The NWS Cooperative Observer Program’s mission is to provide observational meteorological data usually consisting of daily high and low temperatures, snowfall, and 24-hour precipitation totals, to define the climate of the United States and to help measure long-term climate changes. The Co-Op Program also provides near real-time weather data to support forecast, warning, and other NWS public service programs. For more information about the NWS Cooperative Observer Program, visit https://www.weather.gov/coop/overview
In the North Sound, there are NWS Co-Op sites at Darrington, Monroe, Sedro Woolley, Everett Community College, Startup, Diablo Dam and Upper Baker Dam.
For more information about the Heritage Farm in Clark County, see https://clark.wa.gov/public-works/heritage-farm-update