National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Cooperative Observer Program

NWS Cooperative Observer Program

The National Weather Service in Corpus Christi, Texas, is seeking volunteer weather observers for their Cooperative Observer Program. The COOP observers are needed across South Texas, particularly in and near Goliad, Refugio, Port Lavaca, Sinton, Port Aransas, North Padre Island, Portland, Fowlerton, Tilden, Three Rivers, Whitsett, and Alice.

There are over 11,000 COOP volunteers across the United States, Puerto Rico, The Virgin Islands, Guam, Samoa, and other Pacific islands. These volunteers are essential to keep up the most intricate and accurate climate data base worldwide, which is supervised by the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). The COOP data is used on a daily basis as a forecasting and verification tool, and is also used to set climate data bases. Multiple agencies such as the NWS River Forecast Centers, the USGS, the COE, insurance companies, to name a few, rely on accurate daily weather observations from the observers to perform their missions.

The COOP volunteer must exhibit a dedication to public service, and show attention to detail. They must be willing to allow the NWS to place measuring instruments on their property and perform visits to maintain the equipment. The visits are annually, or semi-annually.

The COOP observers will be requested to collect the 24 hour precipitation and temperature data on a daily basis, generally by 8 am. Exceptions to this time frame can be made. The observation will be disseminated through an NWS website on the internet, by a smart phone or tablet, or the data can be relayed to the NWS in Corpus Christi, via a phone call. The observers can utilize a backup observer when they can not perform the duty, for times of vacations, or when out of town for a day or two. The NWS would prefer a minimum volunteer time of at least 3 years to avoid relocation of a site.

Before making a commitment to volunteer for the COOP, your location has to be compatible for the equipment. There must be an open area for the standard rain gauge to collect the precipitation without restrictions or obstructions of nearby trees, buildings, fences, etc. Areas of installation are usually in a field or grass, away front concrete, buildings, and air conditioners, which can have an adverse effect on the temperature equipment.

The COOP observers find it to be a rewarding experience to be part of the program, particularly if they are weather enthusiasts. Occasionally the NWS may have to call the observers during an extreme rain event, severe weather outbreak, heatwaves, or cold spells, to get real time data, to assist in the forecasting.

If you have an interest to be an NWS COOP observer, please contact the Observing Program Leader, at or fill out the interest form located here.

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