National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
The National Weather Service (NEWS) Cooperative Observer Program (COOP) is truly the Nation’s weather and climate observing network.  The COOP network is made up of more than 11,000 volunteers that take weather observations on farms, in the suburbs, in the city, and from the shores for the Great Lakes to the mountain slopes of the Rocky Mountains.  The data is truly a climatological snapshot of where the citizens of the country work live and play.
The COOP program was officially created in 1890 as part of the Organic Act.  The first network of cooperative stations was set up as a result of the act of Congress in 1890 that was the act which established the weather bureau.  However, cooperative stations began long before this event.  John Campanius Holm’s weather records, that were taken without the benefit of instruments in 1644-1645, were the earliest known observations in the United States.  Subsequently, individuals, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin, maintained weather records.  In fact, Thomas Jefferson maintained an almost unbroken record of weather observations between 1776 and 1816.  Also, George Washington took his last observation just days before his death.
1.  Provide observational meteorological data, which usually consists of daily maximum
and minimum temperatures, 24-hour precipitation totals, snowfall and snow depth readings, river level readings, and agricultural information that includes soil temperatures, soil moisture, and evaporation readings.
2.  To provide data in near real-time to help support and enhance forecast, warning and
other public service programs of the NWS.
COOP observational data supports the NWS climate program and field operations.
1.The selection of quality data sites
2.Recruiting, appointing and training new observers
3.Installing and maintaining equipment
4.Keeping station history of each site
5.Keeping the necessary documentation  on observer payroll
6.The collection, maintaining and quality controlling of data
7.Ensure the timely delivery of data to our customers
8.Manage all fiscal and human resources to accomplish the mission
The cooperative station is the site where weather observations are taken by volunteers from private citizens, institutions, and local, state and federal government agencies.  Observers are not required to take tests.  Also, automated observing sites can be considered at a cooperative weather site, if the data it provides is used for services that otherwise could be collected by an observer. 
Equipment that the observers use to gather weather information is provided and maintained by the NWS.  Once the data is gathered, the observer has the option to record the data on a form and at the beginning of each month, mail the form to the supervising NWS Office.  Or, the observer has the option to input the data through the internet using a program called WXCODER and then print out the monthly data for their records while the NWS Office can go to the WXCODER website and download and print the monthly data.  Once the data has been quality controlled at the NWS Office, it is then sent along to the National Climatic Data Center where it is entered into the national climatological database. 

The climatic data are used in every aspect of our national economy.  This includes:
3.Communications Industry
4.Natural Hazards Mitigation
5.Water Resources
7.Public utilities, and much, much more…

Data gathered by cooperative observers, plays a vital role in the continuing education on floods, droughts, heat and cold waves, which play an important role in our day to day lives.

If volunteering 5 to 10 minutes per day to your country and fellow citizens, and become a cooperative weather observer, please contact Deanna Lindstrom, Observation Program Leader, at the National Weather Service Office in Paducah, Kentucky at (270) 744-6440 ext 675 or at
HMT David Purdy takes a measurement
HMT David Purdy takes a measurement
More information on the NWS Co-operative Observation program can be found at