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Albion man honored for 4 decades of documenting daily weather

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 July 2015 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers – Gerald Scharping checks the thermometers inside a shed in his backyard. Scharping has been a weather observer for the past 41 years for the National Weather Service in Buffalo.

GAINES – Gerald Scharping has checking the thermometer and the rain gauge in his backyard as a daily duty for 41 years.

He is dutiful in recording the high and low temperatures, as well as the precipitation for the day. He charts it all, and makes notes about other weather issues of the day, noting if it was windy, sprinkling or snowing.

He sends in a report each month to the National Weather Service, with puts the information in the National Climatic Data Center.

Gerald Scharping is presented a framed certificate and letter of appreciation for his years of service as a weather observer from Dan Kelly of the National Weather Service.

Today the Weather Service presented Scharping with a certificate and letter of appreciation for his many years of service. Only a weather observer in Oswego, who has been volunteering daily in the data collection for more than 50 years, has been at it longer than Scharping, said Dan Kelly, the observer program leader for the National Weather Service in Buffalo.

Kelly works with 53 observers in a territory from Buffalo to Watertown.

“There are very few who have been at it longer,” Kelly said about Scharping.

The Crandall Road resident walks to his backyard each day, sometimes trudging through snow. He tries to get the measurements at 5 p.m. each day.

“I was interested in it,” Scharping said about collecting the weather data.

Scharping checks the rain gauge.

Kelly said the Weather Service has data from Albion since 1938. Tom Lamont was the first to collect the data on Densmore Road, which is about a mile from Scharping’s. Dennis Kirby and Stanley Kast followed, with Scharping starting in 1974.

Kelly said the Weather Service doesn’t have too many spots like in Albion with daily data from the same area going back more than 75 years. That long-term data can help the Weather Service study possible changes in weather patterns and climate, Kelly said.

Scharping has lived in his house for all 87 years of his life. He ran a general farm until 1972, when he was hired as the first manager for the Orleans County Soil & Water Conservation District. He worked in that job until retiring in 1992.

Kelly shared some highlights from Scharping’s reports over the years. The hottest day recorded was 101 degrees on July 8, 1988 and the coldest was minus-20 on Feb. 18, 1979.

Scharping has counted 2,706 inches of snow in the 41 years with the biggest snowfall – 16 inches – on March 11, 1992. He has also tracked 1,448.76 inches of rain with the biggest day, 4.83 inches, on Sept. 14, 1979.

Scharping said he is committed to the task each day and wants to keep at it.

Kelly said he welcomes more volunteers to collect data. He said the Weather Service would like someone in Medina and people near the Lake Ontario shoreline. For more information, email Kelly at Dan.kelly@noaa.gov.