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Weather watcher awarded for service

The National Weather Service has honored a volunteer weather watcher in Riverhead for consistently delivering daily reports on rain, wind and heat for 30 years.

While Rod Zeltmann isn’t the weather watcher with the longest record of continuous service on Long Island, accumulating three decades of service is something special.

Zeltmann began calling in his reports in 1981, the year of the first NASA space-shuttle flight and the year Microsoft rolled out MS-DOS.

He acknowledged the unlikelihood of matching the Long Island service record of 80 years.

“It’s never going to happen,” Zeltmann said. “We only moved here in 1979.”

The Zeltmanns live at a Cornell Cooperative Extension farm in Riverhead, where he drives a tractor and handles other farm chores. His weather station is also there.

About 100 people who went to the farm for Plant Science Day last week watched as two officials from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration presented Zeltmann with his award.

The officials told him that volunteer data from places like his station at the Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center were more reliable than that from airports, because airport conditions can be affected by heat sources, such as buildings and aircraft.

The weather data also are used by Cornell to help farmers decide when to water their crops, based on accumulated rainfall.

The Long Islander with the longest continuous weather-watching service is Richard Hendrickson of Bridgehampton, who was born in 1912 and was honored for 80 years of service in 2008; he sent in his latest monthly weather report in August.

 

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