National Weather Service Training Center

Installation of a New Cooperative Observing Site

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Phase A: Initiating the Process

Step A1

Who needs the station?

It is paramount that the Data Acquisition Program Manager (DAPM) require justification of any proposed installation within the WFO area of responsibility. The person requesting the new site must clearly identify the primary sponsor of a site, review their requirements, and ensure that an approved B-43 accurately reflects these requirements prior to proceeding with any installation, relocation or reactivation. Each and every Cooperative Weather Station should be evaluated to justify its existence.

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Step A2

What are the requirements and siting restrictions for an official Cooperative Weather Station at the proposed station?

Prior to the installation of any Cooperative Weather Station, the person requesting the new site should determine the primary user of the site. The data site must be justified based on current requirements. If the proposed site is an "a" network station, the person requesting the new site must consult with the appropriate "a network grid" map to ensure that he/she knows the geographic boundaries of grid square needing to be satisfied. If it is to be part of the "b" network, it must be justified by hydrology requirements. For example, if the site is to provide headwater precipitation for a particular drainage basin, one must assure that the location is within the geographic parameters established by hydrology. A site located only 50 yards on the east side of a North-South ridge line will not satisfy a hydrology requirement for headwater rainfall for the river basin on the west side of the ridge.

It is extremely important to coordinate with the Service Hydrologist or Hydro Focal Point to ensure a proposed "b" station location is acceptable. Often, the NWS hydrology officials coordinate with cooperating agencies such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Geological Survey to assure the proposed site serves their needs as well.

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Step A3

What reporting or recording criteria must be established for the site?

The person requesting the new site must determine what data are necessary from the station to meet requirements. He/she must determine what and when elements are to be observed and when data should be recorded, reported, transmitted or mailed? The person requesting the new site must be thoroughly familiar with reporting criteria.

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Step A4

Are the data needed "real- time", "near real-time", or is it for "archival" requirements only?

A definition of these terms should be explored to ensure that we understand what is needed and expected from the station and the Cooperative Observer.

  • Real-Time: Only sites with telemetered equipment can be classified as real-time stations. Telemetered equipment is generally associated with hydro "b" network stations which can be interrogated remotely. Accumulated precipitation and/or river stream levels are the only elements which are expected from the telemetered stations. To date, climate "a" network stations have not been targeted for telemetry. Climatological data from Cooperative Weather Stations can not be classified as "real-time" even if their data are reported electronically by the Cooperative Observer through Remote Observation System Automation (ROSA).

  • Near Real-Time: In general, data collected through ROSA are classified as near real-time. This distinction becomes apparent when we realize that an observation taken by a Cooperative Observer was probably taken some time prior to the actual time of being sent into ROSA. If incoming reports rely on data read, recorded and transmitted by an observer, it is classified as "Near Real-Time." Most of these data are transmitted on a daily basis.

  • Archival: The majority of all Cooperative Weather Stations must be classified as "Archival" as their data are recorded on a paper form and mailed in once a month. Climate stations in the "a" network are intended to record the climatology of the United States. These data are archived at the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) in Asheville, North Carolina. NCDC is the repository of our Nation's climatic history. Cooperative data sent to the NCDC are from generally from sites that are published in separate state Climatological Data (CD) and/or Hourly Precipitation Data (HPD) publications.
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    Step A5

    What equipment/instruments are required for site and are they readily available or must they be procured?

    The person requesting the new site submitting the B-43 must indicate what proposed equipment is planned for the site. Obviously, if the request is to establish a climate "a" network station, it will require instruments needed by the Cooperative Weather Observer for recording daily precipitation and maximum and minimum temperatures. An 8 inch Standard Rain Gage (SRG) is a must. A small plastic rain gage is not acceptable at an "a" network station. A proposed evaporation station would receive considerable scrutiny by Regional Headquarters considering the high cost of the evaporation pan and associated equipment.

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    Step A6

    Should the site be "published" in the Climatological Data or Hourly Precipitation Data Publications?

    The person requesting the new site is responsible for determining the publication status of the proposed station. Even though publication criteria is somewhat undefined, several long-standing guidelines apply. They are:

  • "a" Network, Climate Stations: All Climate networks stations should be published. If it is determined that the subject station fills a void in the "a network grid" as defined in Weather Service Operations Manual No. 6, data from this site must be published. This applies to temperature and precipitation data at a minimum; however, other elements, such as soil temperatures and hourly precipitation data, are often published as well. Stations with "a" network requirements often serve other needs as well. An "a" climate station that also fill a hydrology "b" need would be designated as an "ab" station. Obviously, this station would warrant publication. The approved B-43 lists publication requirements for the station. Care must be taken to assure that the proper pub code appears on the submitted B-44.

  • "b" Network, Hydrology Stations: Stations established to serve a hydrology need are generally published. Hydrology stations report and record a minimum of daily rainfall data. Many also report other observed elements including river and stream levels. Temperature is reported at many sites and can play an important role in river and stream level forecasting.

  • "c" Network, Meteorological Support Stations: Stations in the "c" network are for support of local meteorological needs and are generally not published as a "c" networks station. Even so, a "c" designation can be combined with hydrology and/or climatology which might necessitate its publication. If so, such a station might become an "abc" network station.

  • Recording Rain Gage Network: Stations with recording rain gages such as the punch tape recording rain gage should always be published. If unpublished, the data from the rain gage's chart or tape would not appear in the NCDC's HPD. A periodic review of publication codes on each Cooperative Stations B-44 will assure that they are published. Without a B-44 on file at the NCDC showing the proper publication code figure, hourly precipitation data from a recording rain gage site will not be published.

  • Soil temperature and evaporation: Stations with evaporation and soil temperature instruments should be published. A publication code must appear on the station's B-44 indicating a requirement to publish soil temperature and evaporation data. These data appear in the CD and are valuable to the hydrology and the agricultural community. Such sites are generally designated as "b" network stations.
  • The final procedure in A is to actually submit a completed B-43 to Region for consideration through the DAPM and Meteorologist in Charge. Further action must await the approval of Regional Headquarters. This includes site surveys and the recruitment of an observers.

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    Last reviewed or updated on 8/30/00