By act of Congress on February 9, 1870 (the "Organic Act"), the Secretary of War was authorized and required "to provide for taking meteorological observations at the military stations in the interior of the continent and at other points in the States and Territories of the United States, and for giving notice on the northern lakes and on the seacoast, by magnetic telegraph and marine signals, of the approach and force of storms".
Weather observations from Grand Junction began shortly after the city was first established in the early 1880s. Old records indicate that sporadic observations were recorded from April, 1884 through April, 1888. Exact locations are uncertain, but they were generally taken at the homes or offices of either Frank MacClintock or L.F. Ingersoll. Subsequently, no observations have been found from the late 1880s and early 1890s.
In March, 1892, a cooperative observation program was established with Dr. S.M. Bradbury as the first observer. These weather observations were taken from his office on the upstairs floor at 520 Main Street and continued through December, 1898.
In October, 1898, Oscar D. Stewart was appointed as the first Weather Bureau employee in the Grand Valley. His mission was to establish and manage an official U.S. Weather Bureau office. This office, at the corner of 4th and Main, began on January 1, 1899.
Following Mr. Stewart, who was Official-in-Charge (OIC) until November, 1902, came Richard H. Sullivan (January, 1903 - September, 1905), R.M. Hardinge (September, 1905 - March, 1907), L.J. Guthrie (March, 1907 - April, 1908), and again R.M. Hardinge (April, 1908 - February, 1911).
In February, 1911, E.S. Nichols took over as OIC. During this period, many changes took place, including the development of a fruit frost forecast program. Also, the office moved twice; first to the corner of 5th and Main on January 31, 1914, and then to the post office building on 4th and Rood on March 15, 1918. The post office was to house the Weather Bureau for the next 28 years.
Mr. Nichols left in August, 1920. OICs during the next 2 decades include A.M. Hamrick (November, 1920 - July, 1921) and Ernest L. Felton (July, 1921 - October, 1941). A big program change occurred during Mr. Felton's long tenure with the advent of pibal observations in the summer of 1938. Charles Howard ran the office during the turbulent and hectic war years from October, 1941 through June, 1946. One big event was the move of the office from downtown Grand Junction, where it had always been, out to the Grand Junction Municipal Airport (later renamed Walker Field Airport) 5.5 miles north of the city. This occurred on March 16, 1946.
Upper air soundings (RAOBS) were also started during this period. The U.S. Army began this in May, 1944, and the Weather Bureau took over on October 1, 1944. This created some difficulty, as the upper air program was conducted at the airport while the Weather Bureau office was downtown for several months before the office move.
July 1, 1946, saw the beginning of the longest tour of duty by any OIC at Grand Junction. Keith Kerr was the Grand Valley's chief weatherman from that date until retiring from the government 26 years later in June, 1972. The early 1970's was also a time of great change for the Weather Bureau as a whole. The organization was renamed the National Weather Service, and placed under a new entity called NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Mr. Kerr was followed by Tom MacKenzie (August, 1972 - June, 1978) and Derry Newby (July, 1978 - August, 1989). During Mr. Newby's era, the office made a "temporary" move to the top floor of the Rocky Mountain HMO building on Crossroads Blvd. The temporary move lasted until the office moved back onto the airport into specially built facilities in June, 1995 (current location).
Brenda Brock was the first Meteorologist-in-Charge (MIC) of the now National Weather Service (NWS) Office. She remained from November, 1989 to December, 1990. Ms. Brock was followed by Douglas Crowley (January, 1991 - April, 1993) and Robert W. Jacobson Jr. (November, 1993 - May, 2000).
Douglas Crowley returned to Grand Junction in October 2000 and remained as the Meteorologist-in-Charge until retiring in June 2012. In early October 2012, Benjamin Moyer took over the office, becoming the 5th Meterorologist-in-Charge since 1989.
The 1990's saw the implementation of a national NWS modernization program. In Grand Junction, this began in earnest in the fall of 1994 with the hiring of an administrative assistant. Modernization continued through the fall of 1995 with the addition of 5 weather forecasters. In April 1996, human observations, which had been done since the office's beginning, were replaced by an Automated Surface Observing System ( ASOS ). In June, 1996, a WSR-88D Doppler Weather Radar located on top of the Grand Mesa, the first dedicated weather radar on the west slope of Colorado, was commissioned.
The Grand Junction NWS Office now consists of a staff of 25 meteorologists and support personnel who serve the people of western Colorado and eastern Utah.