Cooperative Observer Program
The National Weather Service's (NWS) Cooperative Observer Program (COOP) is the nation's
largest and oldest weather network. It was established in 1891 to formalize the collection of
meteorological observations and establish/record climate conditions in the United States. Our nation
has a long history of weather observations. Many citizens including George Washington, Thomas
Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin maintained weather records. Today, more than 11,000 Cooperative
Weather Observers across the United States donate more than one million hours each year to collect
daily hydrometeorological data.
The Cooperative Observer Program is truly the nation's weather and climate observing network
of, by and for the people. Thanks to its dedicated participants, many decades of relatively stable
operation, and high station densities in many rural locations, the Cooperative Network has been
recognized both as the most comprehensive daily source of U.S. temperature and precipitation data
and for establishing an invaluable climate record.
The operations of the COOP program including training, data acquisition, and station management are
managed by the NWS. Data processing, including quality control, archiving, and publication, are
handled by NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). Participants receive a set of simple
weather instruments and observing instructions by the NWS. Equipment used at NWS cooperative
stations may be owned by the NWS, the observer or by a company or other government agency, as long
as it meets NWS equipment standards.
Of the more than 11,000 COOP stations, nearly 5,000 are climate stations (1,200 are Historical
Climate Network sites), while more than 6,000 cooperative stations support hydrology requirements.
Climate stations report 24-hour maximum and minimum temperatures, liquid equivalent of
precipitation, snowfall, snow depth and other special phenomena such as days with thunder, hail,
etc. Hydrologic stations, on the other hand, report liquid equivalent of precipitation and may also
observe river water level heights, 24-hour maximum and minimum temperature, snowfall, snow depth,
evaporation and other parameters. Observations are sent as monthly reports to the NCDC in Asheville,
N.C. or to the local NWS forecast office where the data is digitized, checked and archived (i.e.,
about 5,800 COOP stations have their monthly summaries published by NOAA's NCDC. Several
thousand observers also report 24-hour summaries of observations to the NWS on a daily basis). Data
is transmitted through telephone, computer or mail.
There are 75 cooperative observers in the Raleigh County Warning area. The map below shows the
locations and station names of the cooperative observers in the Raleigh forecast area, click on the
map to open a larger image.
Other information and links: