December 8, 2013

Former Franklin County Sheriff marks time as national weather observer in Farmington

Dennis Pike, 75, has been a weather service observer for 47 years.

By Kaitlin Schroeder kschroeder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

CHECKING IT TWICE: Dennis Pike explains how he monitors weather conditions including the high and low temperatures from thermometers inside this container each day of the year at his home in Farmington. For decades Pike has recorded weather factors for NOAA, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.

Staff photo by David Leaming

click image to enlarge

RECORD KEEPER: Dennis Pike sets up a precipitation collector at his home in Farmington where he records weather conditions for NOAA, National Oceanic Atmosheric Administration.

Staff photo by David Leaming

“They’re interested when and where they might get the most air from a site. It’s the most-time consuming measurement, but I’ll gladly do (it) to provide those figures,” he said.

Long before Pike took the role of weather observer, Farmington first started its tradition as a site of weather observation – in 1881, when a professor from the former Abbott School began to record data on a daily basis.

Farmington was one of a few towns known to record weather prior to the formation of the weather observer program in 1890. The Farmington Historical Society has a plaque commemorating the unbroken chain of data. Pike said the farming community presented a need for the weather information, and because of the town’s tradition of higher education, even in its early years, there were resident professors with the know-how to collect the data.

Before Pike, the local weather observer was University of Maine at Farmington professor Charles Preble. He retired when poor health prevented him from being able to handle the duties.

That’s when the weather service asked Farmington’s Department of Civil Defense and Public Safety, which is now the Franklin County Emergency Management Agency, where Pike worked at the time, to take over the task.

He said he enjoyed the duties so much that later that first year he set up the weather observation stand at his home, where it’s been ever since.

“I just grew so attached to it,” he said.

Pike retired as sheriff in November 2012 after losing his re-election bid to Scott Nichols, but he remains active.

“Between serving as a selectman, a reserve officer, being a weather observer and being married, I stay busy,” he said

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252 kschroeder@centralmaine.com
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