Fairmont Observer Receives 10 Year Length of Service Award

The National Weather Service proudly presented George Thompson with a 10 year Length of Service Award. George continues the climate history for the Fairmont area started in November of 1894. It is believed the local railroad had its employees record temperatures and precipitation along with various other weather information.  Looking back at an archived copy of the November 1894 observation form, we find the signature of F. H. Hiser. The person most people will remember for recording the weather for the Fairmont area would be Andrew Anderson. Andy officially took over the weather observations in March of 1949 and continued until March of 1999, when George Thompson volunteered to take on the weather readings. George has maintained the weather records with the same dedication shown by Andy. The Fairmont coop site would not be on the list of Historical Climate Network sites without these two fine men and their predecessors. It takes 50 years of uninterrupted observations to compile a climate database for an area. It truly is a remarkable feat. The earliest observations were sent by telegraph each day. Today, George phones his observations in to the National Weather Service in Hastings for input into a computer based program. The observations are then transmitted to the world and used in a variety of weather products. The most common product is the mid morning issuance of the Regional Temperature and Precipitation Table for South Central Nebraska and North Central Kansas. Reports of large hail, damaging winds and/or heavy rain are used to support the forecast and warning programs.

Since the equipment has been passed on to George, he has measured just over 270 inches of liquid precipitation and 179 inches of snow. The wettest year was 2008 with 34.70 inches and the driest year was 2002 with only 18.98 inches. So far this year, up until the end of July, George had recorded only 9.73 inches of precipitation, much below the average of 18.63 inches for this time of year. The past 10 snow seasons have yielded a total of 179.3 inches.  

George faithfully records any precipitation that fell in the previous 24 hours, the high and low temperatures for the previous 24 hours and the current temperature early each morning. At the end of each month, his weather form is electronically downloaded by the National Weather Service in Hastings where it is quality controlled. After that it is electronically downloaded by the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina. The electronic system has reduced the number of paper copies and postage used each month. A copy is also sent to the Nebraska State Climatologist for publication. George is among an elite group of over ten thousand volunteers across the nation who record temperatures and/or precipitation every day.  Climate data are used in every aspect of our national economy. Just a few of the many users are transportation companies, the insurance industry, agriculture, water resource and manufacturing.

Marla K. Doxey, Data Acquisition Program Manager for the Hastings National Weather Service Office, presented George with the award.

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