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
by Cameron Douglas Craig
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 www.ncdc.noaa.gov.
More Information about the COOP
Visit NWS Lincoln’s COOP page at www.crh.noaa.gov/ilx/coop/coop.php.
Rob Kennedy, Cameron Craig, Cameron Hopman, and Kevin Jeanes. Cameron Craig, Rob Kennedy, and Kevin Jeanes prepare rain gauge. Cameron Craig and NWS Meteorologists position Stevenson Shelter that houses the thermometers. Shelter secured to the ground by Kevin Jeanes and NWS Meteorologist. First observation recorded by Darren Leeds at 6pm on October 22, 2008