LIVERMORE FALLS — With help from friends and family, National Weather Service staff from Gray surprised Harold Souther last week with an award for 44 years of weather reporting and civic involvement.

Souther was presented with the Thomas Jefferson Award from the United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in a ceremony Oct. 1 at the First Baptist Church.

It is the highest award a cooperative weather observer can receive; only five of the nation’s 11,000 observers are selected for it annually.

“It’s an incredible honor to be here,” Science and Operations Officer Justin Arnott with the National Weather Service in Gray said. “To pull (weather observations) off for as long as you have is pretty amazing.”

“We’re tremendously thankful for your service. You are a role model,” he said.

Hydrologist Tom Hawley said he couldn’t do his job without the help of people such as Souther.

“We had some rain yesterday,” Hawley said, referring to the Sept. 30 storm.

Souther said his readings during that storm were the highest rainfall amounts in an 18-hour period he had ever seen. 

The information from weather observers helps develop climate record patterns, Hawley said. “It’s incredibly important for us, and Harold is one of the best observers we have.”

Rep. Andrew Buckland, R-Farmington, presented Souther with a legislative sentiment. Souther is Buckland’s great-uncle by marriage and was asked to make the presentation because Rep. Paul Gilbert, D-Jay, was unable to attend.

“This award was totally unexpected,” Souther said. He said he had always kept a diary and in 1971 was asked to become a cooperative weather observer.

“I said I would do it for a year. Forty-four years later, I’m still doing it,” he said, adding that he’s hoping for 45.

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