NYS Mesonet Installs Weather Tower on Empire State Plaza 

ALBANY, N.Y. (January 14, 2016) -- In a quiet corner of the Empire State Plaza in downtown Albany, a looming 106-foot steel mesh tower casts a shadow on passing pedestrians. It's a weather station, specifically a NYS Mesonet station, one of the latest to go up in an ambitious University at Albany project to locate 125 such weather stations across the state of New York.

But this station is different. It's mobile, and it's in a city.

"We're doing it primarily for education," said Jerry Brotzge, the NYS Mesonet program manager. "It's to demonstrate what a weather station in an urban setting looks like." The data from the Plaza Mesonet station will be relayed to a monitor in the plaza's Concourse area, where thousands of state workers and visitors pass each day. It was installed in advance of the Governor’s State of the State address to raise awareness of the statewide project.

With the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and in partnership with the National Weather Service and the NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, the NYS Mesonet weather detection network will blanket the state with real-time coverage of ongoing weather events, providing valuable data for forecasters and emergency responders during weather-related emergencies. Rather than forecasting weather, the Mesonet "now-casts," providing super-accurate, in-the-moment data every five minutes, around the clock. This rich and real-time data is key for enhancing the effectiveness and decision-making of emergency preparedness personnel in weather-related events.

Each Mesonet station will measure temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, pressure, radiation, and soil information. A subset of 17 specialized sites will provide additional atmospheric data, from vertical data gathered from up to three miles above ground; flux, the amount of heat and moisture exchange near the ground; and snow depth information. The stations will be located on combinations of public and private land, SUNY campuses, and K-12 schools, creating new opportunities for teachers and students to collaborate with researchers and university faculty in studying weather.

The University at Albany, with a Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences and Atmospheric Sciences Research Center that, combined, comprise the largest group of atmospheric scientists in the State and one of the largest in the nation, is leading the development of the statewide Mesonet. Fifteen towers are in place, with the remaining 110 to be installed by the end of 2016.


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