National Weather Service officials will install a rain gauge at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, according to Jay Hughes, UAM vice chancellor for student affairs. The University will begin recording daily rainfall and snowfall amounts for the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Little Rock.

The National Weather Service (NWS) Cooperative Observer Program (COOP) is a weather and climate observing network of more than 11,000 volunteers who take observations on farms, in urban and suburban areas, National Parks, seashores, and mountaintops.

The COOP program provides observational meteorological data, usually consisting of daily maximum and minimum temperatures, snowfall, and 24-hour precipitation totals required to define the climate of the United States and to help measure long-term climate changes. The program also provides observational meteorological data in near real-time to support forecast, warning and other public service programs of the NWS.

According to the National Weather Service, weather observations in the Monticello area began in January 1876,taken by Dr. James A. Owens. From the early 1880s through 1899, observations were mainly taken by railway station agents in town and telegraphed to what was then known as the Little Rock Weather Bureau office. These observations were taken during the growing season from April to November.

In early 1937, Monticello was designated an Airway Station. Observations were taken several times a day to support the growing aviation industry. On June 30, 1939, observations were moved to UAM (at the time, Arkansas A&M College).

Daily observations continued at the college through 1956, and then were resumed from 1967 through 1981.

“The National Weather Service is proud to partner again with the University,” said Brian Smith, NWS Little Rock climate services program leader. “Rainfall data from the University will be critical information for agricultural interests, and important in NWS warning and forecast operations.”