Cooperative Weather Observers

National Weather Service - Des Moines Iowa

The National Weather Service (NWS) Cooperative Observer Program (COOP) is truly the Nation's weather and climate observing network of, by and for the people. More than 11,000 volunteers take observations on farms, in urban and suburban areas, National Parks, seashores, and mountaintops. The data are truly representative of where people live, work and play.

 The COOP program was formally created in 1890 under Organic Act. It's mission:

  • To provide observational meteorological data, usually consisting of daily maximum and minimum temperatures, snowfall, and 24-hour precipitation totals, required to define the climate of the United States and to help measure long-term climate changes.
  • To provide observational meteorological data in near real-time to support forecast, warning, and other public service programs of the NWS.

The first network of cooperative stations was set up as a result of an act of Congress in 1890 that established the Weather Bureau (which later became the NWS). While this date was formal beginning of the COOP program, citizens had been taking weather measurements to support operations, and increase their own understanding of the climate since well before that.  The earliest known recorded weather observations were taken by John Campanius Holm, without aid of instruments. His records were taken in 1644-45. Other notable weather observers include, but are not limited to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin. Quite impressively, Thomas Jefferson's weather records were almost unbroken between the years 1776 and 1816.

For Iowa Cooperative Weather Observers is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.