WALLA WALLA, Wash. – The Walla Walla District’s Mill Creek Dam and Bennington Lake project was recognized with an “Honored Institution Award” on Wednesday, Sept. 26, for 75 years of service in the National Weather Service’s Cooperative Observer program.
Dr. Grant Cooper, Western Region, National Weather Service (NWS) director, from Salt Lake City, Utah, with other NWS staff from the Pendleton Field Office, presented the award to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) employees at the project office, located next to Mill Creek, about a mile east of Walla Walla city limits, across from the Walla Walla Community College campus.
The NWS Cooperative Observer Program (Coop) is the nation's weather and climate observing network of, by and for the people. According to the NWS website, more than 8,700 volunteers take observations on farms, in urban and suburban areas, national parks, seashores and mountaintops.
The Coop was formally created in 1890 under the Organic Act. Its mission is two-fold:
+ 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, and
+ to provide observational meteorological data in near real-time to support forecast, warning and other public service programs of the NWS.
According to NWS records, in August 1943, Mill Creek project USACE staff asked the NWS for a rain gauge to locate at their “new” project, said Jim Smith, NWS meteorologist at the Pendleton Field Office.
Since then, Mill Creek staff work together to provide daily Coop data to the NWS about precipitation, as well as seasonal snow depth and accumulation. Coop observational data supports the NWS climate program and field operations.
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For more information about the National Weather Service’s Cooperative Observer Program, visit their webpage https://www.weather.gov/coop