BERNE, Idaho (KXPI / KIFI) – A local man is once again recognized for his dedication to serving his community and protecting him from the elements.
Steve Kunz has over 100 years of weather data. The older records have been given to him, but he has been dedicated to collecting his own data for almost 50 years.
Kunz collects all the weather data for the day every day around 4 p.m., using his instruments in his home in the small town of Bern, outside of Montpellier.
“Our minimum was 32. See that?” Kunz said, pressing the button on one of his digital thermometers.
Kunz then collects the weather data from the National Weather Service and TV and radio stations in the Idaho and Utah area. He doses it every day.
“It doesn’t just affect my life, it affects everyone’s life. And I love it. It’s a science,” Kunz said.
He talks about the weather.
“Something you can’t control. You don’t have any control over it, but yet it affects us all,” he added.
Kunz said he takes great pleasure in helping people use his weather observations in their daily lives.
“The thrill of being able to affect someone else. Don’t cut your hay today. I said to a guy here in our little community, I said, ‘don’t cut your hay. Don’t cut it. We’re going to get dumped. And he thanked me, ”Kunz said.
The National Weather Service was there that day to say “thank you” as volunteer weather observers are essential to their daily operations.
“Well, we have about 9,000 volunteers across the country, and only 25 are recognized each year. Our volunteers are therefore really our eyes in the community. Because of our location, we are in a centralized location, but everyone lives in Southeast Idaho. So Mr. Kunz is basically our eyes to serve the Bear Lake area by helping, not only the temperature and precipitation, but when we have severe weather, thunderstorms or blizzards. He reports this to our team in real time, which in turn helps us get this out to the community through our various media, ”said Vernon Preston, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service in Pocatello.
Kunz receives the John Campanius Holm Award for nearly 30 years of dedication and exceptional service in the Co-operative Observer Program. The award, which is the agency’s second highest, is only awarded to 25 cooperative weather observers nationwide each year. And this is the second time that Kunz has received this award. Dan Valle, an NWS meteorologist in Pocatello, said only 12 people nationwide had already received the award twice. The surprise visit was unexpected.
“Hello. Mr. Kunz,” Preston said at the front door.
“My wife played a trick on me,” Kunz said, opening the door for his guest, while everyone laughed.
“My wife played a trick on me,” Kunz repeated.
“I’m Vernon Preston from the National Weather Service.
“She told me a lie,” Kunz said. “You look familiar.”
“And here’s Dan Valle,” Preston said, introducing his colleague on the porch.
“You look familiar too,” Kunz said, referring to Valle.
“I’m familiar. I was here a few years ago,” replied Valle.
Eyewitness News presenter Todd Kunz asked Steve Kunz what the award meant to him.
“It means I’m going to keep doing this until I die. It’s an honor. I think it’s a reward,” Kunz said.
This award lasted for two years because it was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The prize included a framed certificate, gift bag and a National Weather Service monogrammed jacket.
In full disclosure, Steve Kunz is the father of Todd Kunz. Todd even collected weather data several times when he was a young boy.