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The NWS's Longest Serving Weather Observer
Richard G. Hendrickson taking weather observations at his farm in Bridgehampton, New York (2008).

The NWS's Longest Serving Weather Observer

By NOAA Public Affairs Office

Editor's Note: This article is adapted from a NOAA news release on July 21, 2014. 

When Richard G. Hendrickson logged his first weather observation for the U.S. Weather Bureau, the precursor to the National Weather Service, Herbert Hoover occupied the White House. He was 18 years old. The year was 1930. 

Registering an observation in 2014
Richard registers an observation after a 2014 snowstorm. 
Photo by his granddaughter, Sara Hendrickson. 

As part of the NWS's Cooperative Observer Program, Mr. Hendrickson collected observations of temperature, precipitation, wind, and any other significant weather from his farm near Bridgehampton, NY. He took more than 150,000 individual observations over his eight decade career.

Vacations were rare; one early vacation occurred in 1959, when he won a trip to New Zealand courtesy of the Hormel Company, for purchasing the one billionth can of Spam. 

On July 27, 2014, at the age of 101, he received an award for his long standing service -- 84 years. As he was the first person in the history of the program to reach that level, the NWS created the new 80-year Length of Service Award and named it in his honor. The award was presented before an open house at the Weather Forecast Office in Upton, which serves the Long Island area where his farm was located. 

“Volunteer observers are the bedrock of weather data collection,” said I. Ross Dickman, meteorologist-in-charge of the Upton office. “Richard has contributed thousands of weather measurements to build the climate record for Long Island, and after 84 years, holds the title of the nation’s longest-serving volunteer weather observer. With this award, we honor Richard for his selfless dedication to his community and the country.”

Mr. Hendrickson retired in September 2015, when he turned 103.  Refusing to use a computer, he phoned the Upton office each day with his observations. He passed away on January 9, 2016. 

Learn more about Richard Hendrickson's observing career via the following YouTube videos, recorded in 2014: