Early Warning Weather Detection

    By on February 10, 2016
    • This artist’s rendition shows what the Huron weather station will eventually look like.

    • Contractor Steve Sgarlata, left, talks with David Van Fleet at the Town of Huron site where a weather station is under construction.

    • David Van Fleet, left, talks with Steve Sgarlata near the pieces of a tower that will be constructed at the weather station site.

    Huron Weather Station To Join State-Wide System to Provide Accurate Picture of Developing Storms

    An automated, solar powered weather station is under construction in the Town of Huron that will be part of a state-wide early warning detection system that will provide real-time data to help emergency management decision-makers better plan for extreme weather.

    The Huron weather station will feature a 33 foot steel tower with weather instruments, soil sensors, and a rain gauge. It will be unmanned, with technicians visiting periodically.

    When finished, it will be part of the New York State Mesonet system, which will be a series of 125 weather stations throughout the state that will collect and record weather data, including temperature, air pressure, humidity and wind speed.

    The station, which will also provide agricultural data, is being built on land leased from Van Fleet orchards near Lummisville Road, Town of Huron, according to a special permit application filed with the Town of Huron.

    Work Under Way

    Construction work has been under way at the Huron site since late January. On a recent visit, pieces of the tower lay on the ground, ready for assembly, and a base was being prepared to hold solar panels.

    David Van Fleet, owner of Van Fleet Orchards, visited with workers late last week and looked over the progress while meeting with a reporter.

    Van Fleet said he received an email inquiry, seeking people in the region interested in a weather station.

    “I said I’d be interested, and showed them this site. They seemed to be very interested in it and got back with me and said it was accepted,” Van Fleet said when asked how he became involved in the project.

    The Huron site met the project priorities of being an open area away from physical obstructions.

    “I think it will be a benefit to everybody here in Huron. It’s supposed to have real-time weather. They said that the state and the county and local governments will be able to use it. I think it will be really good,” he said.

    Mesonet System

    The Huron project will be part of a Mesonet system, an observation network with weather stations spaced close enough to adequately sample “mesoscale” weather. “Meso,” according to nysmesonet.org, refers to weather phenomena ranging in size from less than a mile to hundreds of miles long. The observed weather could last from a few minutes to hours.

    The New York State Mesonet network is designed, implemented and operated by scientists at the State University of New York at Albany with support from the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.

    Meredithe Smith Mathias, project manager for Pyramid Network Services in Glenmont, contractor for SUNY Albany for the Mesonet project , said in an Oct. 15, 2015 letter to the Town of Huron that the Mesonet project was implemented as a public safety initiative in response to the impacts of Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, and Tropical Storm Lee.

    In January 2014, the Department of Homeland Security established the New York State Early Warning Weather Detection System. The centerpiece of the system: the New York State Mesonet weather station network.

    Mathias said in e-mailed remarks that each weather station costs about $30,000 to physically build, but said that figure does not include the costs of installation or maintenance of the instruments. She said the overall Mesonet project and its subsequent operation is funded by the Federal Emergency Management System (FEMA).

    Data recorded at the Huron site will be logged and sent to SUNY Albany by means of an existing commercial wireless service, Verizon, available through its existing network in the Town of Huron.

    In addition to emergency planning, the project will have several agricultural uses, including improved insect and disease advisories, spraying recommendations, irrigation scheduling, frost protection, planting and harvesting recommendations and burn advisories.

    “The whole idea behind it was to help farmers, and to help us determine the local weather and what’s going on,” Roger Gallant, Town of Huron Building Inspector, said when questioned.

    At this point, there are 15 weather stations up and running, according to a list posted on the project website.

    The Huron station will be joining that list before long.

    “They’re up working at the site now,” Gallant said recently. “Their goal is to have this thing up and running by spring. If mother nature cooperates, they’re going to have it up and going.”

    Gallant said the Wayne County Planning Board and Huron Town Planning Board reviewed the project. “The zoning board had the final decision on it,” Gallant said.

    Looking over the construction in Huron, Van Fleet talked of the benefits of the project, including ways it will help area farmers. The general public will have access to the weather station data without charge at http://nysmesonet.org/mesonow.

    “That’s why I decided to do it,” he said. “I thought it might help out the local fruit growers, having real-time weather right here in Huron.”

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