Perry Water Works honored for 25 years of volunteer weather data

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Accepting the certificate of thanks for 25 years of continuous reporting of weather data to the National Weather Service were Perry water Works employees, from left, Matt Holmes, Maritza Alarcon, Hank Schmidt, Pam Ballard, Jeff Hix, Steve Heck, Dan Ruggle and Matt Gilmore. Justin Loyd is not pictured. Photo courtesy NOAA

water works

The National Weather Service in Des Moines honored the Perry Water Works plant Thursday for continually supplying temperature, precipitation and hydrological data to the National Weather Service (NWS) over the last 25 years.

The Perry Water Works began their tenure as the official weather observer April 19, 1990.

The weather information Perry’s municipal utility provides the NWS becomes a permanent part of the climatic record for the local area and nation, according to Brad Fillbach, a weather forecaster in the Johnston office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the federal agency that includes the NWS.

The Perry Water Works’ data is used extensively by many sectors, Fillbach said, including the NWS, Iowa State Climatologists and numerous others in the public and private sectors.

“These records continue to acquire greater value with the passage of time,” said Fillbach. “As concern increases about the effect of human activities on global climate, these unique and irreplaceable observations will be vital for the detection and description of any changes in climate.”

There are nearly 300 volunteer cooperative weather observers in Iowa and nearly 11,000 nationwide. Observers are located at homes, farms, municipal facilities, utilities, dams, parks, radio and television stations and many other locations.

Individual observers have taken daily measurements for decades, with successive family generations providing records extending more than 100 years. The family in Iowa with the longest record was the Stern family of Logan from January 1860 to November 1960.

The individual observer with the longest record in Iowa was Earl V. Slife of Hawarden. He began observing August 10, 1926 and retired July 3, 1993 (66 years, 10 months, 23 days).

The Perry weather station has been reporting weather information to the NWS since January 1899.

“The nation owes a sincere debt of gratitude,” Fillback said, “to the cooperative weather observers who have quietly and steadily built up what amounts to a priceless national treasure in the finest tradition of volunteer service in their country. The United States Government, the National Weather Service, State Climatologist, community and others greatly appreciate this service and thank the Perry Water Works Plant staff for 25 years of a ‘job well done.'”

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