University at Albany Inaugurates NYS Mesonet with Completion of First Weather Tower

UAlbany's statewide system will provide the community-at-large with real-time, 3-D data for handling extreme weather events

ALBANY, N.Y. (August 31, 2015) -- The University at Albany has inaugurated the nation’s most advanced mesonet system with a 30-foot weather station tower in Schuylerville, New York.

Located in Hudson Crossing Park, the station is the first of 125 weather towers that will be located throughout the state to provide extensive, real-time, 3-D data to emergency personnel and first responders. The $23.6 million Mesonet initiative, supported by New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, is designed to support better planning for extreme weather events, and will make New York home to the most innovative statewide network of weather stations and profilers in the country.

Working in partnership with the N.Y. State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services and the National Weather Service, co-principal investigators Everette Joseph of UAlbany's Atmospheric Sciences Research Center and Christopher Thorncroft of the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences are leading the design, development and implementation of the NYS Mesonet.

The network will ultimately comprise 125 interconnected surface weather stations to detect weather patterns and phenomena, with as many as 17 super sites equipped with profiler technology to gather above-ground meteorological data, supporting more accurate forecasting. This early warning weather detection system will address existing limitations of current weather-gathering systems, at both the surface level and in the atmosphere. Specifically, it will provide state and local government officials access to high-resolution, real-time data and predictive models, enabling emergency management decision-makers to better plan for and mitigate extreme weather events.

Mesonet tower
The Schuylerville station is the first of 125 weather towers that will be located throughout the state to provide extensive, real-time, 3-D data to emergency personnel and first responders. (Photo by Paul Miller)

Once the NYS Mesonet is fully implemented, emergency managers will be better informed and better equipped to make decisions and deploy resources to protect life and property during extreme weather events.

"We're gratified that Governor Cuomo has recognized the need for a statewide early warning weather detection system, and by capitalizing on the University at Albany's world-class faculty expertise in environmental and climate science to implement it, New York will become better prepared and responsive to the very real threat of extreme weather," said UAlbany President Robert J. Jones. "A statewide mesonet can get us there, so we’re thrilled that Schuylerville will become the first to house a component of this multi-faceted research project that will increase our capacity to better address public safety for citizens throughout the Empire State."

Studies over the past decade show recent trends toward more extreme precipitation in the northeastern United States including New York State, suggesting an increasing vulnerability. Over the past four years alone, New York has responded to Hurricanes Irene and Sandy and Tropical Storm Lee by strengthening and improving the State’s resilience to extreme weather events.

The NYS Mesonet will deliver real-time, high resolution standard observations (rainfall, temperature, wind speed, wind direction, surface pressure and humidity), as well as observations critical for flood forecasting (soil moisture, soil temperature and snowpack). In addition, the network will observe temperature and winds well above the ground into the atmosphere at a scale and rate that will allow for much earlier detection of the ingredients for severe weather.

Currently, the National Weather Service’s offices in New York rely on 27 automated surface observing system (ASOS) stations deployed across the state to measure weather events. However, the ASOS network does not provide the necessary high resolution data needed to inform forecasters and emergency managers of real-time weather or near-term weather forecasts at the town and county level. This data includes rainfall and floods, heavy snow and ice, and high winds.

The stations of the NYS Mesonet system will be located less than 25 miles from each other, many on SUNY campuses throughout the state, reporting and capturing high resolution real-time and spatial data every five minutes.

"The advanced mesonet system will make New York home to the most powerful statewide network of weather stations and profilers in the nation, and we’re pleased that many of the stations will be located on SUNY campuses," said State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. "Leveraging UAlbany’s atmospheric and environmental expertise with the strength of our SUNY system will be a win-win for communities across New York State."

As a centerpiece of UAlbany’s NYSUNY 2020 plan, the University's atmospheric and environmental sciences cluster, recognized by New York State as a Center of Excellence, is poised for future growth with the development of the Emerging Technologies and Entrepreneurship Complex (E-TEC). In addition to housing UAlbany’s Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences and the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center, E-TEC will house the NYS Mesonet labs. UAlbany's Visualization and Informatics Lab assisted by providing tools used in the design of the network.

The complete system will be implemented in phases through the end of 2016. To learn more and gain access to real-time, 3D data, visit NYS Mesonet.

Editor’s Note:

• For video about the NYS Mesonet and the inaugural Schuylerville station, visit:

• For access to download b-roll and video footage from the above videos, visit:

• To view and download a gallery of Mesonet images, please visit:

All photos and video are free and open use, please credit "University at Albany."

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, businesseducation, public health,health sciences, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare and sociology, taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.