Sundbergs earn honor for monitoring weather throughout 36 years |

Sundbergs earn honor for monitoring weather throughout 36 years

Blythe Terrell

The National Weather Service will honor Hayden residents Beth and John Sundberg on Saturday for their 36 years of service.

— Every day at 6 p.m., Beth and John Sundberg check the rain gauge in the raspberry patch behind their Hayden home.

They’ve monitored the moisture and temperature for 36 1/2 years, reporting the data to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration office in Grand Junction. John Sundberg was tapped for the duty when he worked for the U.S. Forest Service.

“At that time, he wasn’t home much,” Beth Sundberg said. “So he said, ‘No, but my wife will do it.’ So I’ve been doing it ever since.”

The couple will receive an honor Saturday for their faithful reporting. Meteorologist in Charge Doug Crowley will come to Hayden from Grand Junction to present the John Campanius Holm Award to the couple.

“It’s a very highly prestigious honor for the volunteer work that they’ve performed in providing the data,” Crowley said.

The National Weather Service gives the award to 15 or 20 people each year, he said, out of about 11,000 volunteer observers.

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The Sundbergs record each day’s maximum and minimum temperature, along with moisture and snowfall. About 88 people serve as official observers for the Grand Junction office, Crowley said.

“This provides a climatological footprint for the U.S., and that’s used in all kinds of research for us, both public and private,” he said.

Beth and John Sundberg monitor Hayden’s weather from their home on Hospital Hill. The temperature varies widely from their backyard down to the river, Beth Sundberg said. She can remember a day when it was 36 degrees below zero at their house. That means it was probably 46 below in town and 50 below at the river, she said.

The Sundbergs saw the biggest monthly snowfall in December 1983: 74.5 inches. The highest temperature they’ve recorded was 97 degrees July 4, 2001. The wettest month was September 1997, with 6.2 inches of moisture. The driest month was June 1980, with two-hundredths of an inch of moisture.

They report the data each month and call the Grand Junction office every day there’s moisture.

Beth and John Sundberg said they have no problem remembering to gather the data at 6 p.m. each day – or as close to that time as possible. If they’re out of town, someone else, usually a family member, checks the information.

Beth Sundberg said she was surprised when she heard about the award at the end of the summer.

“It’s a small, fun job, but you have to be around,” she said. “And they’re nice enough to give me an award for it.”

The Sundbergs, who celebrated their 50th anniversary this summer, said they’d continue to keep tabs on the weather for a while.

“As long as we’re here and able, we’ll keep doing it,” Beth Sundberg said.

But she claims she isn’t an expert on what’s coming: The Sundbergs record; they don’t predict.

“You know what they say about people who predict the weather in Northwest Colorado,” John Sundberg said with a smile. “You’re either a newcomer or a fool.”

If you go

What: John Campanius Holm Award presentation

When: 11 a.m. Saturday

Where: Hayden Town Hall meeting room

Who: National Weather Service officials, Beth and John Sundberg, local dignitaries