National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce


NWS Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley staff provides Family Heritage Award to the Chapa Family of San Manuel, TX
Above: Acting Observation Program Leader Erin Billings (left) and Acting Meteorologist in Charge Barry Goldsmith (right) present Patricia "Pat" Chapa (right center) and Tina Villarreal (left center) with the Family Heritage Award.​
Erin Billings, Acting Observation Program Leader, discusses the importance of the cooperative observer program with KRGV Channel 5 News
Erin Billings interviews with KRGV Channel 5, the Valley's ABC affiliate and No. 1 rated English language station, on the importance of cooperative observations for weather, climate, and commerce in the Rio Grande Valley.​
Rio Grande Valley Cooperative Observer Earns Family Heritage Award
Chapa Family of San Manuel Has Provided Service for More than Fifty Years

SAN MANUEL, Texas, July 22, 2015 – It was a proud, emotional moment for Patricia "Pat" Chapa.

Staff from NWS Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley presented the Family Heritage Award, given in honor of Thomas Jefferson, to the Chapa Family of San Manuel, Texas, on the occasion of more than 50 years of sustained observations. The family has provided temperature and rainfall reports at various times since 1948, and most consistently since the 1960s. The Chapa family has a very long history in north central Hidalgo County, Texas. Observer Pat Chapa is the wife of a fifth-generation descendent; Mr. Manuel Chapa, for whom the town is named, arrived in 1865. ​Mr. Joe Chapa, the father-in-law of Pat, began taking official observations for the U.S. Weather Bureau in the late 1940s before turning over responsibility to Pat and another family friend, Tina Villarreal, in 2008 and 2009.

"We are extremely proud to have the Chapa Family achieve this moment," said Barry Goldsmith, Acting Supervisor of the National Weather Service in Brownsville. "Their dedication provides critical information to agricultural interests in the Rio Grande Valley, which can be used for long term planning for crop and livestock management."​ Added Acting Observation Program Leader Erin Billings: "The Chapa Family’s observations have been crucial during the spring of 2015, when very heavy rainfall in the area created significant flooding nearby. These reports are important ground truth that help forecasters and others accurately determine how much more rain actually fell, and how much more might be needed to create additional flooding."

Pat Chapa was overjoyed with the award, and echoed the sentiment from NWS Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley: "We do it to help the community. As dry land farmers at first, then ranchers later, we’ve seen first hand how rainfall and temperatures affected our region’s crop and livestock production." Added Mrs. Chapa: "We are still plenty healthy and plan to keep reporting for a long time to come!"

NWS Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley is more than welcome to sustain this great partnership! Thank you, Mrs. Chapa, for you and your family’s dedication through the decades.

For a close–up view of the award and brief ceremony, check out this report from KRGV Channel 5 News.