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Thursday, 28 February 2013

28th Feb 2012 – The National Weather Centre

The National Weather Centre
Following an hour and a half drive north from Ardmore, this morning, I arrived at the National Climate Centre in Norman. This is a fantastic facility that brings together research, education, extension, and industry into one focal point at the University of Oklahoma. The national Climate Centre is also base for the Oklahoma Mesonet, a network of real time weather stations across Oklahoma. Each weather station is located in almost a grid like pattern across the state, with a maximum distance between stations of no more that 32km. The principle reason for this was for monitoring severe weather particularly in relation to tornado’s and fires. An off shoot of this is that it provides fantastic real time data which can be turned into tools for farmers and ranchers.

At the National  Weather Centre I met with Al Sutherland, Gary McMannus & Dr Kevin Kloesel.

Al was my host for the day and gave me an insightful tour around the facility. He also showed me the decision support tools that had been developed to help the community make use of the information that is generated from the Mesonet.
Al Sutherland pictured with instruments used for calibrating meteorological equipment
Gary McMannus’s role is to provide a link between the seasonal weather forecasters and the community, he briefed me on how he goes about this, and the challenges that this entails. One such challenge is the poor understanding of the probability system that is currently used to provide the forecasts.

In the Foyer they had a globe onto which a revolving satelite map of cloud movements is projected.
It looked really cool, wish I had one in the office!
Kevin Kloesel is the director of the Mesonet and shared some interesting work with me on the memory of weather events. One of his students had done a Phd on how a weather event can impact the track of future events. I have seen anecdotal evidence of this within our local area, so it was interesting to hear research that had confirmed this and why it occurred.  Also of interest was the way local, seemingly insignificant features can actually affect the surrounding weather.

One of the Mesonet sites

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