A Wallowa man has won one of NOAA's most prestigious awards for his outstanding service in the National Weather Service's Cooperative Weather Observer Program.
John Duckworth was awarded with the John Campanius Holm award for outstanding service, one of only 25 awarded annually across the nation. During a ceremony Sept. 20 at Duckworth's house, he was also awarded a plaque for 40 years of service by Warning Coordination Meteorologist Dennis Hull of the Pendleton weather forecast office.
"Without the century-long accumulation of accurate weather observations taken by volunteer observers, scientists could not begin to adequately describe the climate of the United States. We cannot thank Mr. Duckworth enough for his years of service to America," said Jim Zdrojewski, of the NWS in Pendleton.
Duckworth estimated that he has taken weather measurements in his back yard for right at 50 years now. He began helping his mother take weather measurements. His mother herself had done it for 35-40 years.
Before his mother took weather observations, Luther Johnson, who lived across the alley, had done it for years before her, Duckworth said. So, for nearly a century, weather observations have been taken in Wallowa within the same area, he said.
Normally around 7 p.m., Duckworth takes a reading from a temperature gauge located in his back yard. There is also a rain gauge near his garage. He then passes the data along by phone to NWS.
"It's kind of interesting. A lot of people ask me about the weather," Duckworth said. A lot of farmers tend to call him and ask him to make a forecast, but he doesn't give forecasts, he said.
There are about 11,700 volunteers nationwide who report weather data to NOAA via the National Weather Service's Cooperative Weather Observer Program. The national board of NWS elected Duckworth based in part because of his continuous record of service, Zdrojewski said.
The first network of cooperative weather stations was set up in 1890s as a result of an 1890 act of Congress that established the U.S. Weather Bureau.
John Campanius Holm's weather records in 1644 and 1645 were the earliest known recorded observations in the U.S.
Among the well-known historical figures to take weather measurements were Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.