West Texas Mesonet channels critical information to Davis College scientists
By: Norman Martin
In 1999, a joint venture between Texas Tech's National Wind Institute and the Texas Department of Economic Development created the West Texas Mesonet. Almost a quarter century after installing 150 sites, the regional weather-monitoring program is firmly embedded within the research programs of the Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources.
“The National Wind Institute and West Texas Mesonet system have been major contributors to the success of researchers and students in the Davis College for decades, providing historical and current data in the field and the classroom to hundreds of people,” said Plant & Soil Science Department Chair Glen Ritchie.
The mesonet sites monitor 29 different parameters to aid in the evaluation of weather conditions such as temperature, wind, relative humidity, rainfall, soil temperature, soil moisture, solar radiation, barometric pressure and more. Each mesonet site costs close to $25,000 to install, which also includes various recurring fees for maintenance and communications.
Thanks to data provided by the mesonet stations, meteorologists, like those at the National Weather Service, can more accurately develop forecasts and better inform the public. “The word game changer is probably overused, but that's what the West Texas Mesonet has been to weather operations in West Texas, a game changer,” added NWS Meteorologist-In-Charge Justin Weaver in Lubbock.
Today, the West Texas Mesonet offers are numerous stations 30 miles or less apart reporting weather parameters every minute. These high-quality, timely observations allows the National Weather Service to accurately diagnose the atmosphere in order to produce higher-quality forecasts and provide with real-time data during life-threatening weather conditions.
The West Texas Mesonet measures (observations every minute):
- 10-meter wind speed and direction (average 1-minute with peak 3-second gust)
- 9-meter temperature
- 20-foot wind speed
- 2-meter wind speed
- 2-meter temperature
- 2-meter solar radiation
- 1.5-meter temperature/relative humidity/dewpoint
- Barometric pressure (station pressure, sea-level pressure & altimeter)
- Precipitation (rainfall & melted snow/ice)
And, observations every fifteen minutes:
- Soil Temperatures (average) under natural sod at 2 inches, 4 inches, and 8 inches
- Soil Temperatures (average) under bare soil at 2 inches and 8 inches
- Soil Moisture at 2 inches, 8 inches, 24 inches, and 30 inches
- Leaf Wetness
Program officials noted that earlier this month the National Wind Institute in conjunction with Lubbock Christian University launched its 150th weather-monitoring site near Frankford Avenue and 27th Street, the site of the former LCU golf course. “West Texas people are problem solvers by nature, and we solve more problems when we collaborate than when we try to go it alone — the mesonet network is proof positive of that fact,” said LCU President Scott McDowell.
CONTACT: Glen Ritchie, Department Chair, Department of Plant & Soil Science, Texas Tech University at (806) 742- 4325 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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- Agricultural & Applied Economics
- Agricultural Education & Communications
- Animal & Food Sciences
- Landscape Architecture
- Natural Resources Management
- Plant & Soil Science
- Veterinary Science
Editor: Norman Martin
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