Here's something you don't see every day – a USHCN station reopens

It is heartening to see a “back to basics” approach like this being taken on a college campus. Not only did they reopen the USHCN station that had been closed, they also decided to forgoe the MMTS equipment and do it with a traditional Stevenson Screen and max-min thermometers. Kudos to Eastern Illinois University- Anthony

Important Historical Climate Station returns to EIUs Campus

by Cameron Douglas Craig

EIU WeatherCenter

October 22, 2008

The first Charleston observation began on January 1, 1880 collecting precipitation and temperature data for the U.S. Weather Bureau. In the 1960s, the daily task was given to the department. In the mid 70s, Dr. Dalis Price, professor emeritus, continued the observations at his home. Today, the station has returned to the EIU Campus to continue collecting important climate data for NWS and NOAA.

History of the Cooperative Observation Network

Formally enacted in 1890 under the Organic Act, the Cooperative Observation Program is a network of volunteer weather observers who record daily maximum and minimum temperatures, snowfall, and precipitation totals throughout the United States to help measure long-term climate variations and provide important data in determining forecasts. Many stations were in operation before 1890 but the importance of a network was declared by Congress. The earliest known record of observations came from John Campanius Holm between 1644-45 without the aid of weather instruments. Data were also recorded by George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson whose daily observations continued unbroken between 1776 and 1816. Today, the COOP continues to provide important climate data and is considered the most definitive source of temperature and precipitation data. (NWS COOP)

EIUs Role in the COOP

Every day of the year Geology/Geography students record temperature and precipitation data at 8am and 6pm. The data are provided to NWS for inclusion in the long-term climate archive for the Charleston area. Although EIUWC has four digital stations that record many different meteorological variables in real-time, it is the analog station that is vital to determine U.S. climate trends and what is considered to be climatologically normal.

Charleston Station is Historical

The EIU station is an historical station because the same data and observation times have been continuous since January 1, 1880. Of the over 100 COOP stations in central Illinois there are only 14 stations that hold the position of being historical. Historical stations observe precipitation totals at 8am and temperature data at 6pm. Other COOP stations have only one observation time. EIUWC will continue observing the weather in the same manner as those before us.

Data and the Archive

Each day and at the end of the month the data are sent to NWS. After checking for quality, the preliminary data are sent to the National Climate Data Center (under NOAA) to check the data for accuracy. After about a two month period, the data are officiated and placed in the NCDC online archive. You can retrieve the data from NCDC by visiting

More Information about the COOP

Visit NWS Lincoln’s COOP page at


Rob Kennedy, Cameron Craig, Cameron Hopman, and Kevin Jeanes
Rob Kennedy, Cameron Craig, Cameron Hopman, and Kevin Jeanes.
Cameron Craig, Rob Kennedy, and Kevin Jeanes prepare rain gauge
Cameron Craig, Rob Kennedy, and Kevin Jeanes prepare rain gauge.
Cameron Craig and NWS Meteorologists position Stevenson Shelter that houses the thermometers
Cameron Craig and NWS Meteorologists position Stevenson Shelter that houses the thermometers.
Shelter secured to the ground
Shelter secured to the ground by Kevin Jeanes and NWS Meteorologist.
First observation recorded by Darren Leeds at 6pm on October 22, 2008
First observation recorded by Darren Leeds at 6pm on October 22, 2008

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December 2, 2008 12:03 am

Now I hope NOAA will be able to “find” this station to include in their record as they seem to have “lost” hundreds (thousands?) of stations that still provide daily data.

December 2, 2008 12:18 am

Judging from the shadows photo 3 and 4 they’ve sited it with the door facing the sun.
REPLY: I’ve asked for final photos. They were moving it around that day, so perhaps the the placement was transitory.- Anthony

December 2, 2008 1:31 am

Hoorah! Not a barbecue or air-conditioner in sight.
Any chance of an overhead view?

December 2, 2008 2:33 am

freespeech (00:18:11) :
Judging from the shadows photo 3 and 4 they’ve sited it with the door facing the sun.
I beg to differ. Final photo (6PM) looks like the sun is to the right and that puts the door facing North!

J. Peden
December 2, 2008 3:17 am

Thank you, Thank you, guys. Just don’t get tricked later into having those familiar add-ons, you know, “because it doesn’t look like the other ones”.

Freezing Finn
December 2, 2008 3:33 am

“Not a barbecue or air-conditioner in sight.”
Now, how are you supposed to get results supporting anthropogenic warming from there when there’s nothing anthropogenic anywhere near the place?
I demand they’ll at least remove the station closer to a parking lot for “consistency”.
The Freezing Nut from Finland 😉

Tom in Florida
December 2, 2008 4:09 am

Have any of these students been readers of this blog? Is their action a result of the work Anthony and his volunteers have started? If so, great job Anthony, one man can make a difference.

December 2, 2008 5:03 am

Very nice setup…glad to see they are ‘back to basics’…
Good observation by Tom in Florida…you could be on to something.

December 2, 2008 5:23 am

Screen siting, 6:00pm, sun setting in the west so Darren Leeds in front of open door is looking north. All looks correct to me.

Bill Marsh
December 2, 2008 5:56 am

Meanwhile, the Sun appears to have gone quiet again.

December 2, 2008 6:08 am

Here is an interesting article about acorns and geologists. Didn’t know where to post it.

Steven Hill
December 2, 2008 6:09 am

Louisville Airport numbers for Nov. 4 degrees below normal. I have not looked it up, heard it on local Fox station.

Barry B.
December 2, 2008 6:23 am

Re: Tom in Florida’
I don’t know if any of the students read Anthony’s blog, but the real reason for the station move was because of health issue’s of the previous observer, Dr. Price.
It’s wonderful to see these guys taking the time to site the station correctly!

George M
December 2, 2008 6:45 am

Photos 1, 3 and 4 show the rear of the Cotton Region Shelter. Look at the roof slope, for reference, it slopes front to rear. The shadows fall away from the camera, and it appears to be around mid-day, so the siting is pretty near exactly correct. The rain gauge is out in the open also, a bonus point.

Chris D.
December 2, 2008 6:47 am

Looks like it might be a very nice siting. I wonder it that’s the original location? I’d bet one or more of the students would be willing to put together a station history for, if that’s not already been done.

George M
December 2, 2008 6:48 am

…slopes DOWN front-to-rear. Geez, haven’t had my coffee yet.

Tim Clark
December 2, 2008 7:19 am

crosspatch (00:03:14) :
These folks surely have the best intentions, but let’s not get too worked up just yet. I know it’s not Siberia, but…………
After checking for quality, the preliminary data are sent to the National Climate Data Center (under NOAA) to check the data for accuracy. After about a two month period, the data are officiated and placed in the NCDC online archive.
For brevity, this disclaimer should be condensed in all original station output as “The preliminary data will be Hansenified (or Hansenefiled)”.

Scott Covert
December 2, 2008 7:24 am

Is anyone from the school reading the comments here?
If so, please give us some details about the resighting and your instructions related to siting and collecting/ processing data.
Since there will presumably be a number of observers, how will you handle data consistency?
What sort of training have the potential observers been given?
This is very pleasing to see the students will be getting to see the parameters for a high quality station. It will still be pretty easy to screw it up.

Bruce Foutch
December 2, 2008 7:34 am

Professor, Cameron Craig, shown in the above photos, has published a text supplement to his meteorology course. It is available as pdf here:
This could become an interesting challenge to meteorologic departments throughout the US. Set up their own, properly sited and maintained Stevenson screen weather stations and maintain an independent temperature database. Could provide an interesting comparison to “official” data.

Bern Bray
December 2, 2008 7:49 am

I’m happy to see that they are doing it the old fashioned way, even though the resolution is only plus or minus .5 degree.
I’ve done some work with low cost National Semiconductor electronic temperature sensors and was not impressed with the linearity and repeatability. When you toss in the variability of the supporting electronics, and lack of regular calibration, you are just guessing. /sarcasm on/ However, I’m absolutely sure that the sensors in the MMTS units are a far better unit that never needs maintenance or calibration /sarcasm off/
Do you want to know what I used as a temperature reference as I worked with the temperature electronics? A sealed 1920’s vintage mercury thermometer.

Retired Engineer
December 2, 2008 8:20 am

It would be interesting to look at any shift in the record that occurred in the ‘mid 70’s’ and another shift today. Still, if young folks can get interested in doing it right, there is hope for the future.
Bern Bray: Some thermistors are better than the semiconductor sensors. Not by a lot. I’d love to see a schematic of the MMTS system, or have a chance to examine a dead one. I suspect your ‘vintage 1920’s’ thermometer would give better results.

Douglas DC
December 2, 2008 8:48 am

Being an old SAWRS guy-I set up three stations back in the 70’s two in NE Oregon and one in Richland, Wa.I have a tear in my eye.As an addition,yesterday Redmond,Or had a high of 68,I believe,I know that is at the Airport-which is now a Sea of asphalt.
It would be worth a look…

J. Peden
December 2, 2008 9:15 am

This could become an interesting challenge to meteorologic departments throughout the US.
Which raises the question as to whether these esteemed meterorologic departments are aware of Anthony’s project itself, as they very well should be, etc.. Watts up with that?

Leon Brozyna
December 2, 2008 9:44 am

From the slope of the roof and the direction of the shadows, looks about right for it to be facing north. And it appears to be well sited in an open field, well away from any of the usual suspect heat sources. Of course, since these photos all appear to have a North/South orientation, we’d need a couple East/West shots to confirm placement.

Tim L
December 2, 2008 10:40 am

this still is in the campus which is an urban heat island.
better than top of a roof or middle of a parking lot.
Also will give a few kids a chance to see what happened 100 years ago.

Mike C
December 2, 2008 12:30 pm

Being a properly located station, it will be cooler than others in the area… which means it will get an upward adjustment by NCDC

Jeff Alberts
December 2, 2008 2:02 pm

How exactly does one check for accuracy after the fact??

December 2, 2008 2:03 pm

NEWS TIP:,27574,24733718-2761,00.html
Apparently they have a crapy summer down below. But talking of cyclones… isn’t the difference of water and air temperature relative? If they air is actually cooling but of course the water stays warm (since it has a much greater heat capacity) wouln’t this dT be much more important than the Gore expected dT in his global warming movie senario?

Bern Bray
December 3, 2008 7:24 am

Retired Engineer:
You are right of course. I did see that the MMTS is thermistor based, and I did see one paper that indicated that it is set up in a voltage divider configuration with a 1K resistor of unknown tolerance and ppm.
I would still imagine that a regular calibration should be required, especially since most standard electronic components are not really designed to for temperature fluctuations and extremes (thermistors excepted). Those that are, tend to be very expensive.
Are you on the Front Range?

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