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Trent Faris 1
Name: Trent Faris
Residence: Catawba, South Carolina
Occupation: Public Information Officer, York County Sheriff's Office

Trent Faris 2Trent Faris 1

The weather isn't a casual conversation for the Faris family.

The family has paid close attention to the weather in Catawba, South Carolina, for more than a century. In fact, their weather observations are part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) database.

A Faris - the latest one is now Trent Faris '02 - has submitted data from this long-term, stable station, all the way back to the beginning of the government's data collection in this area in 1906. The Faris information is part of the Global Historical Climatology Network database, which is a critical tool used in climate research applications. NOAA also uses rainfall and river data to put floods in historical perspective and to predict impacts of precipitation events as they are occurring.

Forms for the entire history of the Catawba station are available here

Trent Faris started the collection in December after his cousin could no longer handle the responsibilities.

"We have to keep it in the family somehow," the Winthrop alum said. His great-grandfather, James C. Faris Sr., manned the station and then his son, James Jr. Another relative, Joe S. Faris Jr., took up the cause until last fall.

Trent Faris received some training and the GPS coordinates for the gauge that has been moved across the creek from his cousin's house to his yard. The gauge is the same one that his great-grandfather used. He'll measure rainfall and snowfall accumulations and report on the day's weather, such as thunderstorms, ice or fog.

He said the cylinder gauge holds only two inches of rain. "There are very few times that rain in this area has gone over that mark," said Faris, who has worked in broadcast news and now is the public information officer for the York County Sheriff's Office. The rains in early October that caused terrible flooding in the Midlands and the Lowcountry and led to dam breaks were over the two-inch mark.

The data collection used to involve checking the nearby river totals and reporting those but that ended for the weather observers in 1949. Faris said his great-grandfather used to call in and submit written reports that were mailed. Now he goes on the web and submits a form.

Faris' mass communication degree may not have prepared him for the weather collection but the numerous weather stories he worked on while covering York County for WBTV surely did.

"I'm very excited about it. It's kinda neat," said Faris. "I'll keep on the family tradition and hopefully one of my daughters will take it on."

Last Updated: 2/2/2016

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