NEW SHARON — Every day for the past 40 years, Maynard Webster has kept his eye on the weather.

As an observer for the National Weather Service office in Gray, he faithfully notes conditions at 7 a.m. His information, along with that of other weather observers, helps the service with water supply forecasts for the Kennebec River Basin and to make weather forecasts, he said Monday.

The farmer and chairman of the New Sharon Board of Selectman recently received two awards from the National Weather Service. The first was given to acknowledge his 40 years of service and the second, a John Campanius Holm Award, for his dedication and quality observations of measuring temperatures, rainfall and snow depth from New Sharon.

Up to 25 of the 11,000 cooperative weather observers across the country receive this second award each year, Nikki Becker, observing program leader, said in a release.

The citation on the award reads, “For extraordinary service in reporting detailed observations of temperature, precipitation and snow depth for 40 years from New Sharon, Maine. The National Weather Service regards your observations as a vital resource for water supply forecasts of the Kennebec River Basin.”

The observations taken by local weather observers play a critical role as they contribute to the service’s knowledge and understanding of the local, national and global climate, she said.

When Webster’s neighbor, Ernest Lane, retired from observing weather 40 years ago, Webster decided to take it on, he said. He harvested Lane’s hayfield and gathered an interest in what Lane did for the weather service.

Originally, Webster’s 7 a.m. measurements of precipitation, snowfall amounts and temperatures from his Route 27 home were recorded on a postcard and mailed to the Gray service every day, he said.

Then he started calling the observations in by phone daily.

Now his daily log has gone electronic with data filed on a Web page. 

Although he still uses the same rain gauge, updated equipment keeps track of precipitation measurements and temperatures every five minutes and is uploaded to the site every hour, he said.

He still records snow depth and the water content, thundershowers and changes in weather. If a large amount of precipitation happens before 7 a.m., he is on the phone to alert the service, he said.

One of his most interesting observations happened just last winter, he said. In what he called an “ice cream sandwich of weather,”  the area received sleet and rain, then a layer of snow followed by more sleet and rain.

The observations Webster and other observers provide is now done on a volunteer basis. Originally, they were paid $1 a day, he said.

He said he enjoys keeping an eye on the weather and plans to continue the work.

And what if he wants a day off? 

“Well, those days are just left blank,” he said.

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