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Long Islander, 101, to be honored for volunteer service at weather agency open house

Richard Hendrickson, 101, demonstrates how he collects temperature

Richard Hendrickson, 101, demonstrates how he collects temperature and precipitation data for the National Weather Service on Monday, July, 21, 2014, in Bridgehampton. Hendrickson is being honored as the longest serving volunteer weather data collector for the National Weather Service for his 84 years of collecting information from his farm on eastern Long Island in New York. Photo Credit: AP

Weather enthusiasts are invited to visit an open house Sunday at the National Weather Service office for a behind-the-scenes look at how forecasters work in these days of Doppler radar and sophisticated computer models.
 
Attendees also will hear about a Bridgehampton farmer who'll be recognized for his eight decades of service as a volunteer observer for the weather service.
 
Richard G. Hendrickson, 101, has been taking temperature, precipitation and wind measurements on his farm almost every day since 1929 and reporting them to the weather service. At a ceremony just before the open house, he’ll be honored for his record-breaking, 84-year volunteer service, with a new 80-year service award named in his honor.
 
The open house is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday at the forecast office on the grounds of Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton. At past open houses, attendance has ranged from around 800 to 1,000 for the day, said Tim Morrin, weather service meteorologist. Reservations are not required, but those 16 and older must have photo ID, per Brookhaven policy.
 
Among the activities are a 3:30 p.m. launch of a weather balloon, tours of the facility, an “ask a meteorologist” panel, “Weather Jeopardy” and other games. 
 
Besides being a great way for young people to learn about careers in science, the open house helps visitors become more educated about forecasting methods, ways the weather service communicates news, how tax dollars are being used, as well as roles they might play in helping out, Morrin said.
 
People can be really surprised to learn that, in this digital age, “the real fabric of climatology of the country comes from volunteers,” such as Hendrickson, who, even on the few days he’s been away, always arranged for the measures to be taken, Morrin said.
 
Hendrickson is one of some 8,700 members nationwide of the weather service’s Cooperative Observer Program, volunteers who submit twice-daily? data on their local areas, used in many ways, including by climatologists as they study climate change.
 
As for the forecast for Sunday — things were looking to be “unsettled,” Morrin said. There could be off-and-on-showers, he said, but it’s still too early to make a call.

For more information, visit www.weather.gov/okx.

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