High Plains Ag Lab Presented Award for 150 Years of Observation

High Plains Ag Lab sign
Photo courtesy High Plains Ag Lab

High Plains Ag Lab Presented Award for 150 Years of Observation

During the Third Annual Cooperative Observer Program (COOP) virtual awards ceremony on Oct. 24, 2022, the High Plains Ag Lab (HPAL) in Sidney was recognized by the National Weather Service for its continuous service of observation for 150 years. 

“We are proud to have been awarded the Honored Institution Award from the National Weather Service,” said John Westra, director of the Panhandle Research, Extension and Education Center. “It is an honor to be a part of a long-standing tradition with the National Weather Service and to be collecting data that are critical for our farmers and ranchers in the panhandle.”

The mission of the COOP Network is to monitor and maintain the nation’s local weather and climate data record to support weather and climate forecasts, watches, warnings and continuity and preservation of the climate record.

What is now known as HPAL was once the Sioux Army Depot from 1942 until 1967. In 1970, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln dedicated HPAL, but the acquisition of the land and facilities was preceded by years of efforts by local businesses, farmers, state government and the U.S. Army. 

HPAL has been a recording site since April 1971 but prior to that date, observations were taken by several different observers, which dates back to June 1872. The original observations were taken at the U.S. Post Hospital in Sidney and continued until June of 1894. The next 70 years of observations were taken at a variety of locations, which included the railroad and private residences. 

In 1971, the COOP observations for the National Weather Service were moved to HPAL. Rob Cox, National Weather Service, meteorologist in charge said, “There have been many developments with the High Plains Ag Lab over the years, but they continue to be steadfast in taking accurate and reliable observations.” 

An award presentation will be happening in the coming months at HPAL to further honor the 150 years of observation.  

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