Posted: 3/21/24

TAMIU, National Weather Service Honor ‘Heatwave’ Berler’s Service; Launch New COOP Station on Campus



Laredo -- Longtime KGNS-TV chief meteorologist Richard ‘Heatwave’ Berler has a knack for forecasting, but he likely didn’t anticipate that his service to Laredo’s weather would be recognized and celebrated with a new meteorological station dedicated Tuesday, March 26 at 11:30 a.m. at Texas A&M International University (TAMIU)

Berler has been Laredo’s official Cooperative Observer Program (COOP) observer for the National Weather Service (NWS) for over 38 years.  His climatological observations for the Gateway City have been crucial in helping define Laredo’s climate and support forecast, public service, and warning programs of the NWS.

That service, consistent with his years of broadcasting at KGNS, was recognized at TAMIU Tuesday.   TAMIU has been named as the new site for a COOP station on campus that will continue to collect important weather data. 

TAMIU president Dr. Pablo Arenaz said that the University is honored to be the new home for Laredo’s COOP station and is especially proud to help continue Berler’s impressive legacy.

“Heatwave has consistently provided the NWS with accurate observations for the past 38 and a half years. As a broadcast meteorologist, he has provided meticulous data to either the NWS or the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). He hasn’t missed an observation since the summer of 1985. During critical weather events, Heatwave has gone beyond the call of duty to gather information pivotal to saving the lives and property of the citizens in KGNS’s viewing area. He’s an inspiration, a legend in broadcasting, and a role model for our students and community... and we think it’s especially fitting that his contributions be recognized and have a new home at Laredo’s hometown University,” Dr. Arenaz said.

Other COOP stations are also located on college or university campuses, including one located on the grounds of San Antonio’s University of the Incarnate Word.

TAMIU’s selection recognizes the University’s weather-focused safety measures directed by its Office of Environmental Health and Safety.

TAMIU’s Health and Safety team headed by director Adrian Domínguez is part of SKYWARN, a national network of 350,000+ trained severe weather spotters as the first line of defense against severe weather. TAMIU also holds NWS’s StormReady Certification and is the first higher education institution in Webb County, and only the sixth university in The Texas A&M University System, to secure StormReady certification. 

That makes TAMIU part of 3,198 Counties, Parishes, Communities, American Indian Nations, Government/Military Sites, Universities and Colleges, Commercial Sites, and Supporters across the United States to become a StormReady Site.

Berler joined KGNS in 1980. He is the proud recipient of the prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award from the NWS. This award originated in 1959 as a way for the NWS to honor cooperative weather observers for unusual and outstanding achievements in the field of meteorological observations. It is the highest award the NWS presents to volunteer observers.

About COOP Stations

A cooperative station is a site where weather observations are taken or other services are rendered by volunteers or contractors. Observers are not required to take any tests. Automatic observing stations are considered cooperative stations if their observed data is used for services otherwise provided by cooperative observers. A cooperative station may be collocated with other observing stations such as standard observations or Flight Service stations.

Observers generally daily record temperature and precipitation and electronically send reports daily to the NWS and the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). Many COOP observers provide additional hydrological or meteorological data, such as evaporation or soil temperatures. Equipment used at NWS cooperative stations may be owned by the NWS, the observer, or by a company or other government agency, if it meets NWS equipment standards.

For more about TAMIU’s Environmental Health and Safety and its initiatives and programs, click on https://www.tamiu.edu/adminis/safety/health-and-safety/index.shtml

Learn more about the NWS’s COOP Program by visiting: https://www.weather.gov/coop/overview

Complete TAMIU information is online at tamiu.edu and across the University's social channels on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter/X, and YouTube.  University news is also found on its dedicated NewsHub.

Registration for the Fall Semester at TAMIU begins Monday, April 1.

COOP Recognition at TAMIU
Dr. Pablo Arenaz, TAMIU President; Richard “Heatwave” Berler, KGNS Meteorologist; Cory Mottice, Warning Coordination Meteorologist, National Weather Service – Corpus Christi, and Daniel Berndt, TAMIU Environmental Health and Safety Coordinator celebrate the recognition of  Berler's over 38 years of service to the  Cooperative Observer Program (COOP) and the launch of the new COOP Weather Station at TAMIU.