Jeffrey City resident receives award from National Weather Service

by | Jan 10, 2020 9:43AM

h/t National Weather Service for the featured photo

Recognizing more than 31 years of excellent service to the nation’s climate observing network, the National Weather Service has named Jeffrey City, Wyo., resident Jack Darnell a 2019 recipient of the agency’s Thomas Jefferson Award.  The Jefferson Award is the agency’s most prestigious award and is presented annually for distinguished service in the Cooperative Weather (COOP) Program.  Of the more than 11,000 COOP observers, only five recipients are selected each year to receive the Jefferson Award.​

Ralph Estell, data acquisition program manager (pictured with Mr. Darnell), and Chris Jones, meteorologist in charge, of the Riverton NWS office presented Mr. Darnell with the award in late December 2019.  “There are very few observers that have been as deserving of this honor as Mr. Darnell.  The daily reports from Jeffrey City ensure that climate records continue in this remote stretch of Wyoming and his dedication is remarkable,” said Estell.  Added Jones, “Mr. Darnell has a spirit of service that lives in his soul.  We are grateful for his lifelong service to our nation, not just as a COOP observer.”

Mr. Darnell is a World War II Marine Corps combat veteran who was injured during the famous battle for Iwo Jima and was awarded the Purple Heart Medal.  He began taking daily weather observations at Jeffrey City in 1988.  The previous observer had been Western Uranium Corporation which was ending their operations in the area.  Mr. Darnell and his family eagerly accepted the challenge of operating a COOP site in the soon-to-be ghost town.  Over 30 years later, he continues this legacy with excellence, dedication, and attention to detail.  Mr. Darnell is a lifelong community volunteer and he can still be seen helping with ranch roundups.

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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, more than 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.

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 Center for Environmental Information (NCEI) for publication in “Climatological Data” or “Hourly Precipitation Data.”

The first extensive network of cooperative stations was set up in the 1890s as a result of an 1890 act of Congress that established the U.S. Weather Bureau.  Many of the stations have even longer histories.  John Campanius Holm’s weather records, taken without benefit of instruments in 1644 and 1645, were the earliest known recorded observations in the United States.

Many historic figures have also maintained weather records, including Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson.  Jefferson maintained an almost unbroken record of weather observations between 1776 and 1816, and Washington took weather observations just a few days before he died.  The Jefferson and Holm awards are named for these weather observation pioneers.

The above information was shared by the National Weather Service. 

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