Tall Timbers implements new weather station solution

By Joe Noble and Theron Terhune

In 2003, a Remote Automated Weather Station (RAWS) was installed on the main campus at Tall Timbers for collection of hourly weather data. This was a huge step forward, as previous weather data was collected at a daily scale. While the 2003 RAWS was state of the art at the time, it lacked certain functionality – mainly the ability for researchers, fire practitioners, and collaborators to see data in real time. It also lacked the robustness of a true database for storing and analyzing the data.

During the past few months, the Outreach program completed an upgrade to the 2003 RAWS, as well as implemented a new weather station and database to provide accurate, local and real-time weather for field staff and collaborators. For example, managers and field staff can access the web app to view current weather data prior to or during a prescribed burn. The current station’s sensors are calibrated to National Fire Danger Ratings System (NFDRS) standards, which allow our data to be shared and used in a variety of fire and meteorological models. However, the RAWS and NFDRS should not be replacements for using on-site weather instruments for site-specific weather parameters impacting fire behavior. In addition to the NFDRS collection schema, collection of one-minute incremental weather data will better facilitate the use in current and long-term research. We used a program called Vista Data Vision to store weather data in a relational database, which is available real time via smart phones and mobile devices (e.g., Droid, iPhone, tablets) and on the web. Additionally, historic (long-term archived) weather datasets were added to the database so they could easily be searched and downloaded. In the future, we hope to add a few additional weather stations for more regional coverage across the Red Hills./p>

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