40 years of weather watching paid off for this Appling man

Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2019
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

He received one of the highest civilian honors for being a weather spotter. (Source: WRDW)

APPLING, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Lester Morris, or Darwin as he's known, has had a long standing relationship with weather.

"Well my grandfather had always done it," Darwin said.

His grandfather started tradition of observing the weather in 1957. Darwin then picked it up in 1977 and has been continuously recording the weather ever since.

"His efforts over the many many years has earned him one of the highest awards that NOAA can award to our cooperative weather observers," said National Weather Service's Hydrometeorological Technician Douglas Anderson.

That award, the John Holm Award, is only given to a max of 25 people across the county each year, so it's a big deal. And over the last 42 years, Darwin's seen a lot of big storms. The biggest?

"Probably that ice storm that we had a few years ago," Darwin said.

This is something most of us remember all too well -- trees covered in ice, slick roads, and power outages.

"You could be standing where we are and all down through the woods it sound like gun shots you know just tree limbs breaking," Darwin said.

Founded in the late 1800's, the program has grown a lot in the past 130 years and while Darwin might be the only observer in Columbia County, there are more than 11,000 volunteers like him across the country.

The program itself provides the National Weather Service with observational meteorological data, usually consisting of daily maximum
and minimum temperatures, snowfall, and 24-hour precipitation totals. All of this goes into defining the climate of the US and help with long-term climate prediction.

The daily data also provides Meteorologists current conditions of the atmosphere which allows for better forecasts to keep you safe, especially during severe weather.

"I'm just glad to do it," Darwin said. "It's something my granddaddy always did, and it was just an honor to do it."

Darwin says he plans on keeping the streak going and not stopping anytime soon. If you want to find out more about the program or become apart of it you can  click here and contact your National Weather Service office.

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