The Rathbun Lake Project Office was recognized by the National Weather Service recently for their long history of providing temperature, precipitation and hydrological data. Rathbun Lake began their tenure as the official weather observer Oct. 1, 1969.
The weather information they provide the National Weather Service becomes a permanent part of the climatic record for the local area and nation. This data is used extensively by many sectors including the National Weather Service, State Climatologists and numerous others in the public and private sectors. These records continue to acquire greater value with the passage of time. 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 of over 100 years. The family in Iowa with the longest record was the Stern family of Logan from January 1860 to November 1960. The 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 nation owes a sincere debt of gratitude 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 Rathbun Lake staff for 50 years of a “job well done.”