Coop Awards

The National Weather Service has an expansive network of volunteers throughout the United States that provide timely and accurate vital weather information to their local NWS Weather Forecast Office. Throughout the Nation, there are roughly 10,000 volunteers from various locations such as farms, urban and suburban areas, National Parks, Conservation Areas, water treatment plants, local radio and TV stations, just to name a few. The COOP program was initially formed under the 1890 Organic Act in which a system was set up for volunteers to be recruited and trained in weather observations. The mission of these valuable volunteers consists of two parts:

  • 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 data is invaluable to an extensive climate database across the United States. Although the majority of the NWS observers take daily measurements of maximum and minimum temperatures, precipitation, and snowfall, there are other observers that provide soil temperatures, frost depth, river levels, and greenness or grassland curing data (for fire weather purposes). All this data that is collected from our volunteer observers helps several industries such as litigation, water resources, insurance, engineering and architectural, medical, manufacturing, communications, public utilities, transportation, agriculture, natural disasters/hazardous material mitigation, housing and real estate. We at the National Weather Service are extremely grateful and fortunate to have some amazing folks volunteer their time to provide such crucial data everyday. Length of Service Awards are given every 5 years to individuals or institution that have dedicated their time to help complete the NWS Mission. So far this spring 2015, the NWS Des Moines have presented four Cooperative Observer Length of Service Awards.

Janet Lindstrom of Rockwell City receives her 20 year Length of Service award. Presenting the award was Brad Fillbach, HMT, WFO Des Moines, IA.

Ross Rekemeyer of Albia receives his 30 year Length of Service award presented by Brad Fillbach, HMT, WFO Des Moines, IA. Ross Rekemeyer of Albia receives his 30 year Length of Service award presented by Brad Fillbach, HMT, WFO Des Moines, IA.

Brad Mueller of Greenfield, IA (pictured) recently received his 10 year Length of Service Award. Presenting the award was Brad Fillbach, HMT, WFO Des Moines, IA Brad Mueller of Greenfield, IA (pictured) recently received his 10 year Length of Service Award. Presenting the award was Brad Fillbach, HMT, WFO Des Moines, IA.

Robert “Lightning” Petersen (pictured) recently received his 30 year Length of Service Award. Presenting the award was Brad Fillbach, HMT, WFO Des Moines, IA Robert “Lightning” Petersen (pictured) recently received his 30 year Length of Service Award. Presenting the award was Brad Fillbach, HMT, WFO Des Moines, IA.

Blog post by Kenny Podrazik – NWS Des Moines

May 27-29, 1947 Snowstorm

One of the most unusual weather events in Iowa history occurred as an intense low pressure system moved northeast across Missouri and into the Great Lakes region, passing over the far southeastern corner of Iowa. Meanwhile an unseasonably cold area of high pressure spread down the northern plains bringing record breaking cold temperatures to much of the region. A heavy snow storm tracked along the northwestern side of the low across eastern Wyoming and Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, and into northern Michigan from May 27-29 producing unprecedented snowfalls for so late in the spring. In Iowa the storm struck on the 28th with most precipitation in the south coming in the form of thunderstorms and rain, sometimes mixed with sleet and snow, while across about the northern half of the state the precipitation fell almost entirely as snow. In Iowa, measurable snow was recorded at most locations north of a line from Council Bluffs to Dubuque with reported accumulations including an incredible 10.0 inches at Le Mars, 8.0 inches at Cherokee, 7.5 inches at Waukon, 6.0 inches at Alton and Hawarden, 5.0 inches at Cushing, Iowa Falls, Milford, and Northwood, 4.5 inches at Mason City, 2.0 inches at Waterloo, and a trace at many locations including Des Moines. In Nebraska several locations received 10 to 12 inches of snow and in Wisconsin 8 to 10 inches fell in a narrow band from Gays Mills to Green Bay. To put into perspective how unusual this event was, no snow has ever been recorded anywhere in Iowa at a later date in the spring. The total of 10.0 inches at Le Mars was the highest snow accumulation on record in Iowa at any time in the month of May until it was bested by the storm of May 1-3, 2013. A series of heavy rains in the following several weeks combined with the snow-melt from this storm to produce historic flooding across many parts of Iowa in June of 1947.

May 27-29_1947 Snow Storm