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Weather watcher wins national recognition

A Wellington woman has been recognized for more than three decades of dedicated service to the National Weather Service (NWS) Cooperative Observer Program.
LaRaine Johnston was honored as a recipient of the John Campanius Holm Award for her outstanding service. The award is one of the agency’s most prestigious, with only a maximum of 25 earned each year by deserving weather observers throughout the country.
Mrs. Johnston began taking observations in May of 1980. According to a news release from the National Weather Service, she and her husband Von have endured thunderstorms, torrential rains, extreme wind and winter blizzards to gather observations every day.
In addition to submitting her monthly weather reports for the past 36 years, Johnston phones in her observations to the Salt Lake Weather Forecast Office (WFO) every evening for inclusion in the Salt Lake City NWS Regional Temperature and Precipitation product. She also provides spotter reports for extreme weather events that occasionally threaten life and property in the vicinity, greatly assisting the WFO with warnings and verifications.
John Campanius Holm, a Lutheran minister, was the first person known to have taken systematic weather observations in the American Colonies. He did so in 1644 and 1645, without the benefit of instruments. Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson all maintained early weather records. Jefferson kept an almost unbroken record of weather observations from 1776 through 1816.
The Cooperative Observer Program was established in the 1890s to provide data to the newly formed Weather Bureau, predecessor to the National Weather Service.
The program consists of nearly 10,000 volunteers across the nation who record maximum and minimum temperatures every day, in addition to precipitation, snowfall and snow depth. The data obtained from these observers provides the climate records and climate normals for local sites throughout the U.S.
Across Utah, more than 100 volunteer cooperative weather observers record the daily weather. Data collected benefits many federal, state and local agencies, including the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Geological Survey and the Natural Resource Conservation Service. These agencies use the information to assist in water and irrigation management.
The National Weather Service said Mrs. LaRaine Johnston brings great dedication and pride to the Cooperative Observer Program. Her service to her community, the state of Utah and to our nation has been outstanding.

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