MASON CITY -- Joan Cox, the long-time Cooperative Weather Observer from Mason City, was presented with a 25-Year Length-of-Service Award and 25-Year Pin, during a ceremony honoring her meritorious service. The awards were presented by Meteorologist in Charge Brian Hirsch, from the National Weather Service in North Platte, and Observing Program Leader Steve Carmel.
Joan Cox began providing the temperature, precipitation, snowfall, and snow depth data to the National Weather Service, beginning Jan. 1, 1986. Mrs. Cox began her career as an observer in the spring of 1966, as the secondary observer to her husband, Orvin.
"When Orvin retired, he retired from everything," Joan said "And he asked me to take over as the weather observer." Joan took over the mantle as the primary observer for Mason City at that time. One thing Joan has learned over the years is that rain gauges, even those only a few feet apart, rarely have identical readings. So when someone disagrees with her rainfall total, she just reminds them that the gauge in her yard is an “official government gauge.”
The daily records that Joan has provided have been responsible for maintaining a daily weather log of temperature and precipitation data that is published by the National Climatic Data Center, and the High Plains Climatic Center in Lincoln. Joan contacts the National Weather Service during severe weather, or heavy rainfall or snowfall events.
Joan is known for being active and very involved with her community, having served as a volunteer at the library and in many other endeavors. "It seems like anything going on in the community, I'm involved in it," she said.
Along with several volunteer duties and club memberships, Joan helped with two Mason City history books. She writes a community news column for the Custer County Chief and serves as the city librarian two days a week.
This type of volunteerism directly benefits the surrounding community, by providing a collection of official temperature and precipitation data for Mason City, and Custer County. Data provided by cooperative observers is used by the National Weather Service, the Army Corps of Engineers, the United States Geologic Survey, and numerous others both in the public and private sectors. This data eventually becomes a permanent part of the climatic record for the local area, and the nation.
Joan’s observations provide the National Weather Service with a rapid source of observational data. She has proven to be an observer of extremely high quality, and was chosen as a John Campanius Holm Award winner in 2007. Only 25 people in the entire nation are chosen each year for this prestigious award, which was created in 1959 to honor weather observers.
There are more than 300 official volunteer cooperative weather observers in Nebraska, and nearly 12,000 nationwide. Observers are placed at private residences, farms, municipal facilities, utilities, dams, parks, game refuges, radio and television stations, and other locations. The nation owes a debt of gratitude to the cooperative weather observers who have quietly and steadily built up what amounts to a priceless service.
The United States government, National Weather Service, and the Nebraska State Climatologist commend Joan Cox, for doing such a fine job taking these meticulous observations, and disseminating the data, noted the press release from the weather service.