Weather observers who make up the National Weather Service Cooperative Observing Program are a core of volunteers numbering over 10,600. Their history extends back long before there was a National Weather Service. Of these, about 5,000 make up the "climate" network while the remainder of the network supports hydrology or meteorology. This network of volunteer weather watchers has become an American institution. The program and its history of success continue to arouse the envy of other countries around the globe. It has been acclaimed as the most cost-effective weather data collection network in the world..

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Today, the Cooperative Observer Network operates basically as it did the first year of its inception over 100 years ago. Cooperative WeatherStations, scattered over all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, take weather observations seven days a week throughout the year. Cooperative Weather Observers provide a myriad of vital information for their local areas.

It is estimated that Cooperative Weather Observers donate over a million hours of their time each year, netting the public more per dollar expended than any other government service in the world. Their data becomes more valuable with time and forms the cornerstone of the Nation's climatological history.

Cooperative Weather Observers come from all walks of life. Farmers, teachers, lawyers, doctors, housewives, and retirees are all among those individuals contributing to the program. Individual observers are usually long-time local residents of the area. This provides longevity and continuity of data. In addition to private citizens, many local, state, and federal government offices actively participate in the program. Power plants, water and pollution control plants, schools and universities, and members of the media also provide Cooperative Weather observations. Observers are recruited in predetermined locations to fill a specific data need. This need may be to define the climate of an area, to obtain data for NWS hydrologic operations, augment data from the Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS), or provide credible ground truth data.

As a cost-free benefit to Academy School District 20 and the surrounding community, the Cooperative Weather Observer for the National Weather Service Cooperative Station at Cumbre Vista – Colorado Springs 10N has established a unique, high-technology weather station at Legacy Peak Elementary School and Modern Learning Center. Among the Nation’s public schools, the weather station at Legacy Peak is unrivaled anywhere in the United States.