Harlan Weather Spotter retires from service

News, Weather

October 9th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A man whose face many people in southwest Iowa and eastern Nebraska have seen on television during the weather segments, and who reports weather data to the National Weather Service and other media outlets, including KJAN, is retiring from his post. Ray Book, from Harlan, says after 13-years of reporting daily weather data such as precipitation, temperatures and other weather phenomenon, he’s calling it quits. His last day was today (Tuesday). Book served an official observer and reporter for Harlan. He’s kept the records and reported directly to the National Weather Service each day since he took over the duty in December of 1999. That means faithfully reporting that information every day at 7-a.m., rain or shine, blizzard or hail. He says he’s seen it all over the past decade or so. The hardest part of the job he said, was measuring snowfall.

He says when people question how the amounts can vary so much, whether it’s rain or snow, he tries to explain it to them. Ray says rain and snow do not fall in equal amounts across the same area, as evidenced during this year’s drought. The drought has been the big news story this year, aside from politics. Ray has his own thoughts on the drought. He says he hopes we get some moisture. If we don’t next year won’t look good at all, but Ray says weather runs in cycles, and he thinks it will eventually all “even out.”

He started out recording his information in a book on a daily basis, and his reports at the end of each month. But, technology changed all that. He says in 2009, he started filling out the information on a computer program to the National Weather Service in Valley, NE. That information would be compiled and sent on to Washington, D.C. He also sent the same information to the local newspaper, and an Omaha television station. Ray said he’s enjoyed the job, and responsibility that comes with reporting data every single day, but the 71-year old says he’s ready to spend some time traveling, with his wife, Maxine.

The couple has five adult children. They’ve been married for 49-years. The job of reporting the weather now, falls on Dan Crees, at Crees Garden Center, in Harlan.