BERN, Idaho (KXPI/KIFI) – A local man is awarded, again, for his dedication to serving his community and keeping them safe from severe weather.
Steve Kunz has more than 100 years of weather data. The older records were donated to him, but he has been dedicated in collecting his own data for nearly 50 years.
Kunz collects all the weather data for the day every day about 4 p.m., using his instruments at his house in the small town of Bern, outside of Montpelier.
“Our low was 32. You see that?” said Kunz, pushing the button on one of his digital thermometers.
Kunz gathers then reports that weather data to the National Weather Service and area TV and radio stations in Idaho and Utah. He dose it everyday.
“It doesn’t only affect my life, it affects everybody else’s life. And I love it. It’s a science,” said Kunz.
He’s talking 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 gets the most joy out of 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 told one guy here in our little community, I said, ‘don’t cut your hay. Don’t cut it. We’re going to get dumped on.’ And he thanked me,” said Kunz.
The National Weather Service was here this day to say ‘thank you,’ because the volunteer weather observers are vital to their daily operations.
“Well, we have about 9,000 volunteers nationwide, and only 25 are recognized each year. So our volunteers are really our eyes in the community. Because of our location, we are in a centralized place, but everybody else lives throughout southeast Idaho. So Mr. Kunz is basically our eyes to serve the Bear Lake region in helping, not only temperature and precipitation, but when we have severe weather, thunderstorms or blizzards. He’s reporting that to our team real-time, which help us, in turn, get that out to the community through our different media outlets,” said Vernon Preston, meteorologist-in-charge for the National Weather Service in Pocatello.
Kunz is receiving the John Campanius Holm Award for nearly 30 years of dedication and outstanding service in the cooperative observer program. This award, which is the agency’s second highest, is only presented to 25 cooperative weather observers nationwide, each year. And this is the second time Kunz has received this award. Dan Valle, a meteorologist with the NWS in Pocatello said only 12 people nationwide have ever received the award twice. The surprise drop-in visit was unexpected.
“Hello. Mr. Kunz,” said Preston at the front door.
“My wife pulled a trick on me,” said Kunz, opening the door to his guest, while everyone laughed.
“My wife pulled a trick on me,” Kunz repeated.
“I’m Vernon Preston with the National Weather Service.
“She told me a fib,” said Kunz. “You look familiar.”
“And this is Dan Valle,” said Preston, introducing his co-worker on the front porch.
“You look familiar too,” said Kunz, referring to Valle.
“I am familiar. I was down here a couple years ago,” replied Valle.
Eyewitness News anchor Todd Kunz asked Steve Kunz what this award means to him.
“It means I’m going to keep doing this until I die. It’s an honor. I feel it’s a reward,” said Kunz.
This award was two years in the making because it was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The award included a framed certificate, a goodie bag and a monogramed jacket from the National Weather Service.
In full disclosure, Steve Kunz is the father of Todd Kunz. Todd has even collected the weather data many times when he was a young boy.