(VIDEO) The mesonet site is the National Wind Institute’s 135th station that provides 29 different parameters to help researchers and meteorologists continually track weather conditions.
Texas Tech University's National Wind Institute installed its 135th West Texas Mesonet (WTM) station in the South Plains Food Bank's orchard thanks to fundraising efforts from Boy Scout Troop 505 and assistance from the National Weather Service (NWS).
“For several years, we've been trying to put a mesonet station in the city of Lubbock, but it's very hard to find a spot that isn't undergoing construction,” said Wesley Burgett, manager of WTM. “About a year ago, the food bank asked about the possibility of installing a station at one of their locations. Within the last three or four months, we partnered with the NWS here in Lubbock and the Boy Scout Troop 505. They started a fundraiser to help pay for this station, and they also helped install the tower and some of the concrete work. So, it's been a partnership all along.”
Each mesonet station measures 29 different weather parameters from temperature and wind to relative humidity, rainfall, soil temperature, soil moisture, solar radiation, barometric pressure and more, Burgett said. All the data sampled by each station is sent to the NWS, which helps it issue weather-related warnings.
“The NWS is a 100%, all-in, committed partner of the WTM and has been since the first station was installed in 1999,” said Justin Weaver, meteorologist-in-charge at the NWS. “NWS personnel from seven different field forecast and warning offices assist the WTM almost daily with station location surveying, installations, inspections and repairs. We also assist with software, web and database design, development and maintenance. We provide these services in return for access to a rich dataset of meteorological variables, in real-time and with gold-standard accuracy and quality control. We value our partnership with WTM so highly that we have protected it with an official memorandum of agreement between seven NWS field offices and WTM.”
Matthew McEwen, director of the Farm, Orchard and GRUB Program at the South Plains Food Bank, said the collaboration was a long time coming.
“We are honored to be the home of the 135th WTM station and the first for the east side of Lubbock,” McEwen said. “Wes and I have been working for more than a year to make it happen, and we couldn't have done it without the collaborative community effort and support. This project falls right in line with our mission at the food bank to always do more for our community, and it will be a valuable resource for all of us for many years to come.”
Data from the mesonet stations make NWS forecast and warning operations much more accurate and timelier than they would be otherwise.
“This joint effort for the new mesonet station at the South Plains Food Bank between WTM, the food bank, Boy Scouts of America and NWS Lubbock is an outstanding example of teamwork, shared resources, expertise, public service and a ‘can-do' attitude by all interested parties,” Weaver said. “We are excited to have another source for high-quality, real-time weather information for the city of Lubbock.”
Each mesonet station costs roughly $25,000 to install with recurring, monthly communication fees.
“People are really excited and happy to have a mesonet station nearby,” Burgett said. “It's a great outreach opportunity for the university, and I enjoy working with the small towns. We're trying to put a station roughly every 30 miles in West Texas. We have more installations in the Panhandle happening later in the year.”