Aaron grew up watching his grandfather keep track of Watonga's weather statistics.
“Now that I'm doing it. I report it all online, where he would call it in every day and kept paper records that he'd submit every month,” Aaron said. “Now there's a sensor outside in the yard and there's a cable buried and run inside and there's a little display unit inside that keeps track of the high and the low.
“Since I've started doing it, it's kind of fun actually and it's interesting to be the one who has the information.”
Norman's forecast office also uses some Oklahoma Mesonet stations as co-op sites, as well as information from systems located at some airports, Mitchell said.
The National Weather Service provides the weather equipment needed for the data collection and reporting, Mitchell said. It installs the equipment to be used by the observer, and trains the observer how to correctly measure and report the weather data.
For measuring temperature, a 25-square-mile grid is used, with one station designated as the climate temperature station in each grid. The location of precipitation sites is determined more by hydrological needs, such as river basins, topography and other local concerns, with guidance from the hydrologist at each forecast office.
“People from all walks of life can be a cooperative observer,” Mitchell said.
He said any potential new observer must reside within five miles of the original location of the cooperative station.
“This maintains continuity with the climate data,” Mitchell said.
Respect for the weather
The Helena Cooperative station was established in August 1942.
In the mid-1960s, Jantz and her husband, Phillip, purchased her brother-in-law's house, where the weather service had already established a co-op observing site. Bonnie has always been fascinated by weather. As a child growing up in Wichita, Kan., she remembers one time wading through floodwaters and she recalls going with her father to Udall, Kan., after a tornado struck that community in 1955.
“I was always mindful of the weather growing up,” she said, “and of course I kept being interested in it.
“I have such respect for the weather, and for the weather service.”