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by Kevin Shaw, the snowwalrus of Gaithersburg, Maryland

Greetings Weatherfun! This is definitely a fun activity to do and it certainly deals with the weather so it most definitely is a fit with our weatherfun name.

Ever wonder what the weather was like going back in time in your old home town, or where you are living now? Well now you can easily do it – all you need is internet access, this guide, and a little time and you can gain full access to the world of original cooperative data forms from any location in the United States.
I personally love to look up mountain stations and check out their incredible big snowfalls, and also their colder temperatures.

What is the Coop Program?

The National Weather Service (NWS) Cooperative Observer Program (COOP) is truly the Nation's weather and climate observing network of, by and for the people. More than 11,000 volunteers take observations on farms, in urban and suburban areas, National Parks, seashores, and mountaintops. The data are truly representative of where people live, work and play.

The COOP was formally created in 1890 under the Organic Act. Its mission is two-fold:

COOP observational data supports the NWS climate program and field operations. The program responsibilities include:

A cooperative station is a site where observations are taken or other services rendered by volunteers or contractors. Observers are not required to take any tests. Automatic observing stations are considered cooperative stations if their observed data are used for services which otherwise would be provided by cooperative observers. A cooperative station may be collocated with other types of observing stations such as standard observations stations, Flight Service Stations, etc. In these cases, that portion of the station observing program supporting the cooperative program's mission is treated and documented independently of the other observational and service programs.

While most cooperative observers are volunteers some are paid where specific types of services are needed. Observers frequently record temperature and precipitation daily and send those reports monthly to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) or an NWS office. Many cooperative observers provide additional hydrological or meteorological data, such as evaporation. Data is transmitted via telephone, computer or mail. Equipment used at NWS cooperative stations may be owned by the NWS, the observer, or by a company or other government agency, as long as it meets NWS equipment standards.

The first network of cooperative stations was set up as a result of an act of Congress in 1890 that established the Weather Bureau, but many COOP stations began operation long before that time. John Campanius Holm's weather records, taken without the benefit of instruments in 1644-45, were the earliest known observations in the United States. Subsequently many persons, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin, maintained weather records. Thomas Jefferson maintained an almost unbroken record of weather observations between 1776 and 1816, and George Washington took his last observation just a few days before he died.

Two of the most prestigious awards given to Cooperative Weather Observers are named after Holm and Jefferson. Because of its many decades of relatively stable operation, high station density, and high proportion of rural locations, the Cooperative Network has been recognized as the most definitive source of information on U.S. climate trends for temperature and precipitation. Cooperative stations form the core of the U.S. Historical Network (HCN) and the U.S. Reference Climate Network.

Equipment to gather these data is provided and maintained by the NWS. Observers send data forms sent monthly to NCDC in Asheville, NC, where data are digitized, checked and archived.

Volunteer weather observers conscientiously contribute their time so that observations can provide the vital information needed. These data are invaluable in learning more about the floods, droughts, heat and cold waves affecting us all. The data are also used in agricultural planning and assessment, engineering, environmental-impact assessment, utilities planning, and litigation. COOP data plays a critical role in efforts to recognize and evaluate the extent of human impacts on climate from local to global scales.

To gain access to the data/record form, input the following URL in your browser: or just click HERE for now.
Scroll down to the bottom of the page, where you will find an option to click on the following:

COOP Data / Record of Climatological Observations Form
COOP Data / Record of Climatological Observations Form is a monthly log that includes a daily account of temperature extremes (participating locations) & precipitation, along with snow data at some locations. Available for thousands of sites which are a part of the cooperative observing network in the US. The forms have a lag time of 1-2 months.

After you click on that link, you will have to decide what state you would like. Highlight The state you want and then click the NEXT button.

Then when you are in the state you want, you next select the station you would like.
Notice that the period of record for each station is displayed. Data is only available for the months and years listed.
Once again highlight the station and click on the NEXT button:

Now select the month and year you want. Highlight the correct month/year and click on the NEXT button.

COOP Select Form
User State Station Forms
Free Access New York BARNES CORNERS

Now the screen will look a bit different. Your data screen that you need to concern yourself with looks like:

Your Publication(s)
Here is the 1989-12 COOP Publication for NY that you requested. Make sure you save your document, so you have access to it.

Once you click on this link, assuming you have ADOBE ACROBAT reader installed on your computer, you will get the data form you want on your screen. The example I have been using is the December 1989 data form for Barnes Corners NY. Depending on what Version Adobe you have, you should be able to view, print, and save this form to your computer. Even though this statement under “Your Publication(s)” saying that you make sure you save your document, so you have access to it”, in my experiences I have not saved the document as I just casually look at a given month and given station, perhaps printing it, and then move on to another one, or just get out of the program.

To access another record, you must click off (x) this form, that gets you back to a previous screen, then hit the back key on your browser, and you will get to the following page:

Error: You've completed your request!
You have already completed your request for the 2005-07 COOP Publication for NY. The links were:
If you would like to submit a new request,please click this link to the front page.

Just follow these directions and start your request all over again. I have yet to be denied on getting as many requests as I want- I have spent hours online. Or just click off the form, exiting the website and get into something else.

I hope you will have a lot of fun exploring this world of the internet, I know I have already and plan on doing a lot more in the future! Let me know if you have any further questions or would like to add any sort of information you have discovered.

With a click, you can return to the January 2006 Newsletter