National Weather Service
recognizes Fischer family
Cited for weather achievements, rain recorders
By Richard Zowie
Times Guardian Staff Writer
Since 1890 back in the days reminiscent of Louis L'Amour novels, the Fischer family has been an environmental mainstay in Comal County.
A member of the Fischer family would use a rain gauge to regularly record the amount of rainfall in the area.
"Weather was always a thing you needed to know back then since most people were farmers or ranchers," said Charlene Fischer, great-granddaughter of Hermann Fischer, who settled in the county around 1852 and founded the city of Fischer.
Fischer is a third-generation weather recorder for the National Weather Service, which officially began recognizing rainfall readings in 1930. First it was her great uncle who started recording weather in late 1930s, then her father from 1947-1976. She's recorded it since 1977.
On June 3 at the Old Fischer's Store/Post Office/Museum, Fischer accepted a 65-year Length of Service award on her family's behalf from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service. The award recognized the four generations of Fischer's that have been recording weather and the three generations who've been official NWS observers.
Fischer previously received a 25-year Length of Service Award from the NWS in 2002. In 1977, Fischer's father also won the Thomas Jefferson Award, the highest award the NOAA can give out to Cooperative Weather Observers. Only five people in America each year receive this award.
Fischer is currently one of more than 11,000 volunteer observers who daily record weather readings for NWS researchers and meteorologists. The observers also record temperature, soil temperature, evaporation, wind movement agricultural data, river stages and lake levels.
"The Fischer family and the thousands of cooperative observers across the nation give generously of their time and energy because of their interest in weather and dedication to our country," said NWS Southern Region director Bill Proenza in a statement. "We honor them and thank them for their commitment."
Fischer records rainfall using a brass gauge with a two-inch tube with an overflow capable of recording up to 24 inches of rainfall. The gauge is monitored on a daily basis.
Another gauge she's used, with a solar panel on it. It records rainwater in 15-minute increments and measures by water weight. It contains a reservoir that can hold up to 20 inches of rain and has a film of oil to prevent evaporation. It prints onto tickertape, like an adding machine.
Fischer, 64, does the rainfall recordings in her back yard. "It's interesting to see and compare things from one year to the next," she said. "It measures the amounts of rainfall so we can see what kinds of weather cycles are going on. With these gauges, as we report, with all of the weather readings coming together they can more accurately tell what the runoff will be."
She added: "It's not a difficult job. It's something I enjoy doing as long as I'm physically able. One lady did it until she was about 90 years old."