McCoy honored for NWS work; Bulletin contributor records weather data for decade

Savanna Gregg/Burnet Bulletin
Hugh McCoy reads temperature data transmitted from a sensor located in his front yard every morning at 8 a.m. McCoy then records the data and submits it to the National Weather Service to continue a record that was started in 1849 when Fort Croghan was commissioned by the United States. McCoy lives on Hamilton Creek Drive, located on the old grounds of Fort Croghan, making his job as a cooperative observer even more significant.







By Savanna Gregg

Staff Writer

Burnet Bulletin

Every morning, Burnet resident Hugh McCoy records weather conditions and daily rainfall for the area at his home on Hamilton Creek Drive, located on the grounds where Fort Croghan once stood.

Weather conditions were regularly monitored from the fort from 1849 until it was decommissioned in 1853, then continued under the U.S. Signal Corps. Recordings were later transferred to the U.S. Weather Bureau, now known as the National Weather Service. The NWS established the Cooperative Observer Program to assist with weather reporting throughout the nation and it continues today, relying on thousands of dedicated individuals like McCoy.

One hundred seventy years after weather observations began in the area, McCoy continues to contribute to one of the longest-running weather records in Texas, and in August, he will celebrate his tenth year of service to the NWS and the City of Burnet.

“It's really nice being a part of this,” McCoy said. “Weather is very important.”

When the NWS of Austin and San Antonio stopped by the Fort Croghan museum in 2009 looking for someone to join their Cooperative Observer program, preferably in the same area as the former fort grounds, a volunteer at the museum pointed them in Hugh's direction because of his perfect location, and the rest was history.

McCoy reads daily temperatures and rainfall through a large rain gauge and thermometer located in his front yard, forwards it to the National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, North Carolina, and also reports inclement weather such as occasional hail to help evaluate other weather patterns.

McCoy has learned a lot during his time as a cooperative observer, noting interesting patterns like the fluctuation of temperatures during the day.

“I always thought temperature was consistent throughout the day, but it moves up and down,” McCoy said. “Sometimes it will go down three or four tenths of a degree within a matter of minutes.”

The data McCoy sends is used in many ways, including roadway drainage planning, floodplain management, engineering, climate research, and hydrology to name a few.

McCoy also sends the weekly data to the Burnet Bulletin every Monday morning, ensuring the weather reports that began so long ago continue to inform residents of the City. Readers will find the information on the bottom lefthand corner of the paper each Wednesday.

McCoy always had an interest in the weather, and even kept a five-year diary of weather conditions when he was a young boy.

“When I commit to something, I do it,” McCoy said. “And I’m quite sure, in the ten years I’ve been doing this, I haven’t missed a day.”

Even during a short hospital stay, McCoy ensured the NWS still received their daily report by teaching others how to record the data and send it in.

McCoy's consistency in his weather reporting has been beneficial to the NWS as well as the City of Burnet, giving the NWS an accurate, consistent record for an entire decade and continuing the daily routine of Burnet’s first settlers.

“Burnet's historical weather record is in good hands. We have 98 active Cooperative Observers in our 33-county area of responsibility, and Mr. McCoy is one of our very best,” said NWS Hydro-Meteorological Technician Cory Van Pelt. “I always enjoy visiting him on my annual visits, and look forward to many more years of watching Burnet's weather with him.”

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