R-C Neighbor: Ted Hendricks watches weather as a hobby
Ted Hendricks’ appreciation for the weather began when he was in the Air Force. For three years he flew over the Arctic zone, where temperature and weather conditions could affect his very life.
“It sort of perked my interest,” said Hendricks from his Minden home. “From there it grew into a hobby that I have enjoyed for years and years.”
Hendricks is Minden’s weather observer. His backyard is neatly arranged to accommodate a thermometer shelter, a precipitation gauge and an evaporation tub. A wind gauge pokes up from the roof of his house. He monitors the equipment daily and reports the information to the National Weather Service and the Nevada State Climate Office. He also provides the high and low temperatures for The Record-Courier’s weekly report to readers.
Prior to moving to Minden in 1988 with his wife, Elsie, Hendricks was an aerospace engineer with Lockheed, working at various facilities in Burbank, Vandenberg Air Force Base and Sunnyvale, Calif. Even then he was a weather observer, reporting his findings to the California Department of Water Resources.
“There are a tremendous number of agencies that need the data supplied by observers who are out in the field,” said Hendricks. “Weather, climate, rainfall – it affects our lives on a daily basis.”
Hendricks first became acquainted with the Carson Valley when he joined a group of friends and their sons for motorcycle trips into the Sierra.
“A group of us at work had sons close to the same age, and they all seemed to be into the same thing – motorcycles,” said Hendricks. “We thought that the activity was something that dad should be around for, so we all bought motorcycles and every summer we would take off for the Sierra.”
Hendricks said that the men enjoyed the trips so much that even after their sons grew up, they continued the tradition.
“We camped and rode together, and fell in love with the countryside,” said Hendricks. “And then I convinced Elsie that she should love it, too.”
Hendricks and his wife have been married for 46 years and according to Ted, he was “born married.’ They have two sons, Don and Duane. Both sons live in Oregon. Don has three children.
The Carson Valley seemed to be the perfect place to retire. It was close enough to their children and grandchildren, but not too close. And it was in a beautiful scenic area that they both loved.
Yet Hendricks found that when he retired, he missed working. Luckily, he grew up and remained life-long friends with Nevada’s state climatologist, John James. Through this association, Hendricks continued with his hobby – monitoring the weather.
Hendricks is also an independent contractor for the State Climate Office, traveling to remote locations where weather reporting stations are set up. In the past, there have been more than 100 observation stations in the state. Now, according to Hendricks, there are 46.
“I inspect the weather stations to make sure they are operational, and I do the maintenance,” said Hendricks.
Sometimes that entails scraping and repainting the shelters that house the thermometers or just spending some time with the station’s observer, catching up on news and talking about the weather.
“Some of the stations use stone-age technology, but they are every bit as reliable,” said Hendricks. “And many are set up on outlying ranches. It can be a long and lonely trip to the station.”
He laughed. “But let me tell you a truism. No matter where you are, there will be a UPS truck banging across the road.”
Up until recently, Hendricks traveled to all of the observation stations by himself. But in the last year and a half, he has had the company of John James.
“John has finally figured out that this job is pretty neat,” said Hendricks. “It’s a lot of fun, and I’ve always enjoyed doing this kind of thing.”
Despite the need to record information daily, Hendricks isn’t tied down by his work. Recording devises are installed on some of his monitoring equipment. And a neighbor down the street will step in and take readings on the others when Hendricks and his wife want to take a vacation.
“Elsie and I enjoy traveling,” said Hendricks. “Last year, it was the Lake Louise, Banff area in Canada. Of course we stopped in to visit the kids and grandkids on the way.”
One year, Hendricks participated in the Cycle Oregon trip, with thousand of bicyclists riding across the state.
“I drove the motor home and was the rolling motel for my son and his friends,” said Hendricks. “The whole trip amazed me. The logistics that were necessary to plan meals, sleeping arrangements and support for thousands of riders was phenomenal.”
But most of all, Hendricks enjoys being home where he can monitor the weather.
“I’m an observer, not a forecaster,” said Hendricks. “Technically, I’m not qualified to make a prediction. But my job is the greatest. And the information I gather serves a great purpose.
“You’d be surprised by how much the information that is compiled by the Climate Office influences people,” said Hendricks. “The information is available to Chambers of Commerce, real estate companies and businesses and well as the general public. It provides average temperatures, rainfall and other weather-related facts that can play an instrumental part in people or businesses relocating to our state.”
Hendricks said that if given a choice of places to retire, he would again pick the Carson Valley.
“We thoroughly love the area, like the people and I love what I am doing,” said Hendricks. “This is the best place for us to live.”
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