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    A large amount of current weather data comes to our office via a number of cooperative observers throughout the region. The National Weather Service Cooperative Observer Program (COOP) is a weather observing network of over 11,000 sites across the country, which supports the NWS climate program and field operations. The Tampa Bay NWS has a total of 27 COOP sites that it maintains and receives data from. Each of these sites records maximum and minimum temperature and/or daily precipitation data and sends it to our office each day. At the end of each month, the data is compiled and quality controlled and then sent to the National Climatic Data Center. 

    COOP stations take daily measurements of temperature and/or rain using equipment installed by the NWS. The Maximum-Minimum Temperature Sensor (MMTS) is used to read the temperature. The MMTS is comprised of two parts: the beehive and the display box. The beehive is the portion that actually measures the temperature and is placed outside in an area away from buildings, trees, and pavement. This is to ensure that the sensor is recording the proper temperature and that it does not receive extra heat from buildings and pavement and that the sun is not blocked by trees hanging over the sensor. The beehive is connected to the display box, which sits inside the building where readings are taken. The two parts are connected by a cable that runs underground and into the building. The display has the ability to recall the maximum and minimum temperatures seen so far that day, and can be reset at the end of the day so that new readings can be taken the next day.
Maximum-Minimum Temperature Sensor
Fischer Porter Rain Gauge Standard Rain Gauge
    There are two types of rain gauges distributed by the NWS for use at COOP stations. One is the Fischer Porter Rain Gauge. There are 8 of these gauges across our area. Rain falls into a bucket at the top of the gauge and is weighed to determine how much rain fell. Rainfall is measured every 15 minutes and this data is stored in the gauge and is downloaded each month by the observer and sent to the NWS. Then the data is quality controlled and forwarded to NCDC. Those sites that measure rainfall that do not have Fischer Porter gauges have a Standard Rain Gauge (SRG), which is simply a plastic tube that catches water. Rainfall using the SRG is measured with a measuring stick and sent to the NWS either electronically or by mail.

    The Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) program is a joint effort of the NWS, the FAA, and the Department of Defense and serves as the primary surface weather observing network, with sites at over 900 airports across the country. The
electronics technicians at our office are generally responsible for the maintenance of each ASOS sensor in our area. Critical aviation weather parameters are measured at each ASOS, which can update weather conditions up to 12 times each hour. Each ASOS works 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.

    Each ASOS disseminates hourly observations. The weather elements reported by ASOS include cloud height and amount, visibility, type and intensity of present weather (which includes rain, snow, and freezing rain), fog and haze, sea-level pressure, air and dew point temperature, wind speed and direction, and other significant conditions, which include changing cloud heights and visibility, precipitation beginning and ending times, rapid pressure changes, pressure change tendency, wind shift, and peak wind. ASOS sensors will disseminate special observations when it detects significant changes.
Automated Surface Observing System