The North Fork may be the next location in New York to receive state-of-the-art weather technology that can provide officials with more accurate, real-time information.
The weather station, proposed for Pindar Vineyards in Peconic, would be part of the University at Albany’s Mesonet System. The project is still in the preliminary stages, according to a representative from the Southold building department.
The Mesonet System is a series of 125 weather stations across the state designed to serve the New York State Early Warning Weather Detection System. The program was designed and is implemented by scientists at the university with support from the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.
These stations collect weather data at local levels — temperature, air pressure, humidity, wind speed and so on — and pass the information along to local, state and federal emergency planners as an accurate assessment of weather conditions in specific areas, according to Tim Morrin, observation program leader at the National Weather Service.
Mr. Morrin added that the NWS and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have been involved in the planning of this system since it started approximately two years ago.
He said he suggested several Long Island locations, including Peconic, for the weather stations. No official weather data is currently being collected on the North Fork, he said.
“When you start getting data at a location for which you did not have data, it’s a wealth of new information,” Mr. Morrin said.
The proposed weather station would feature a 33-foot steel tower equipped with weather instruments as well as soil sensors and a rain gauge. It would be fully powered by a solar-charged battery cabinet, according to the proposal that was sent to the town building department by project manager Meredithe Smith Mathias.
Mr. Morrin said the tower will help principally in gathering research data as opposed to forecasting.
“In this day and age, with climate change and all, it is good to have high-quality information to look back on,” Mr. Morrin said.
The tools used in these weather stations are “top-notch,” he said, and will be beneficial in gathering information to track weather patterns.
“We’re going to put a much higher value on the data coming from this new network than we would with other information we get,” he said.
The Mesonet system can also benefit agriculture. It has the ability to offer spraying recommendations, irrigation scheduling and calculating soil temperature, to name a few, according to the Mesonet website.
Pindar Damianos, owner of Pindar Vineyards, said it’s a “win-win” to have the weather station on his property. He agreed to allow the system to be built on his property after he was approached by representatives from the university.
“I think it benefits everybody,” Mr. Damianos said. “We’ll have a central location on the island and we’ll be able to gather weather data for the general public and for the agricultural community out here.”
Mr. Damianos also said he would be able to have access to the data collected, which can help him as a grower.
A representative from the Southold building department said they are waiting to see if the planning department needs to be involved in the project at all before it can proceed. There’s currently no estimated timeline.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced construction approval for the Mesonet system in July 2015 and said it’s a way to actively prepare for whatever Mother Nature will bring. Not all of the planned weather stations are in place yet, but more than 80 have been put up across New York State, according to a radar map at mesonet.org.
“The Mesonet system is part of how our administration is moving forward with future storms in mind, and I am proud to see this important milestone reached,” he said.
The plan is to have approximately 125 different stations across the state, and 17 subsets will provide different information, like the amount of heat and moisture exchange near the ground, snow depth information, and vertical atmospheric data, according to the Mesonet website.
What Mr. Morrin said is unique and about this system is the collection of real-time 3D data.
“The fact that it’s so highly accurate and available immediately is very exciting,” he said.
Photo: An example of what the 33-foot steel weather tower will look like. (Credit: Brian Busher/University at Albany, courtesy)