Staunton Mennonite Church

2405 3rd St - Staunton, VA 24401

Former Pastor ~ Weatherman

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Virginia, Bob and Richard WeaverWeather's In Their Blood
Posted 2009-05-14

Single Family Runs Dale Enterprise Station
For More Than 125 Years
By Heather Bowser
Reprinted with permission of the Daily News-Record

HARRISONBURG - For more than a century, the members of one Rockingham County family have logged the weather for the government at one of the oldest weather stations in the nation.

On Wednesday, they received a little overdue recognition for their effort. Officials from the National Weather Service presented Richard and Virginia Weaver and their son, Bob Weaver, with the "Family Heritage Award" for providing more than 125 years of service to the nation.

The NWS officials gave the family members a framed certificate and service pins during the Board of Supervisors meeting at the Rockingham County Administration building in Harrisonburg.

Since the early 1880s, the Weavers and their ancestors have taken daily weather observations for the historical climate record in Dale Enterprise, a village just west of Harrisonburg.

The weather station, one of 11,000 in the nation, is the oldest operating station in Virginia, and the third-oldest in the nation, NWS officials said.

Richard, 89, and Virginia, 86, also received the Dick Hagemeyer Award for their 45 years of service in the cooperative observing program.

"The Weavers have surpassed even President [Thomas] Jefferson's records," said James E. Lee, meteorologist-in-charge at the NWS forecast office in Baltimore. "Your family's observations have made a significant contribution to our understanding of the nation's long-term weather and is very much appreciated."

The Heatwole Family

It all started in 1868 with Virginia Weaver's grandfather, a 15-year-old Mennonite named L.J. Heatwole.
At the time, Heatwole began recording the weather in his diary. He used descriptions such as "hot," "clear" and "windy." He didn't yet own a thermometer.

From then on, every day of his life, Heatwole recorded the weather conditions from his home in Dale Enterprise.
Eventually, the government caught wind of his faithful habits and on July 10, 1884, the U.S. Signal Service, the predecessor of the NWS, appointed Heatwole as an official "voluntary observer" of the weather.

In 1888, Heatwole and the service established the Dale Enterprise Weather Station. He sent weekly, monthly and annual weather reports to newspapers, magazines and "interested persons" outside of the state, his family said.
Heatwole also sent his reports to newspapers, including the Rockingham Register, an early predecessor of the Daily News-Record. After he died, the weather station and its recording responsibility was passed down through the family, ending with the Weavers.

Every morning since 1985, Richard Weaver, Heatwole's grandson-in-law, has checked the temperature at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. and sent it to both the DN-R and the National Weather Service.

His wife checks the weather when he is unavailable, and their son records the information when the couple is out of town. He will likely take over the station if he remains in the area.

For their efforts, the government gives the family $120 a year.

"We feel highly honored," said Richard Weaver.