Oklahoma forecasters win honors
The National Weather Association has awarded the Oklahoma Mesonet the 2013 Larry R. Johnson Special Award.
The honor is presented to an individual or group to recognize unique events or extraordinary accomplishments in operational meteorology.
“This national award is incredibly meaningful to the team of scientists and engineers that have worked on the Mesonet over the past two decades,” said Chris Fiebrich, manager of the Mesonet. “We are proud to be part of a project that makes Oklahoma stand out as a national leader.”
The annual award committee recognized the Oklahoma Mesonet for “operating a comprehensive observing network with a 20-year legacy of exemplary service for the residents of Oklahoma that earned the title of America’s ‘gold standard’ network from the National Research Council.”
“This is a tremendous honor that recognizes the innovation and service-oriented dedication of all current and former employees of the Mesonet from both The University of Oklahoma (OU) and Oklahoma State University (OSU),” said Kevin Kloesel, director of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey.
Since commissioning on January 1, 1994, the network has collected, processed, and delivered more than four billion weather observations at a time resolution of five-minutes. In real-time, these data are made available to decision makers and forecasters across the region with a reliability and availability of 99.6 percent. Archived Mesonet data also have been made available to countless scientists and operational forecasters worldwide.
Since 1996, the Mesonet’s outreach to Public Safety officials has resulted in the training of more than 1,000 emergency managers across Oklahoma on how to use the real-time weather data to make decisions for their communities during severe weather. This outreach program – known as OK-FIRST – was honored in 2001 by Harvard University and their John F. Kennedy School of Government as one of America’s five-most innovative government programs (selected from more than 1,600 applications).
In addition to working with emergency managers, the Oklahoma Mesonet also works regularly to train fire managers regarding use of Mesonet data to aid in wildfires, inform agricultural users about Mesonet products available for producers, and educate K-12 teachers and students across the state to promote science enthusiasm and promote weather awareness.
The Oklahoma Mesonet is a world-class network of environmental monitoring stations. The network was designed and implemented by scientists at OU and at OSU. It consists of 120 automated stations covering Oklahoma. There is at least one Mesonet station in each of Oklahoma’s 77 counties.
At each site, the environment is measured by a set of instruments located on or near a 10-meter-tall tower. The measurements are packaged into “observations” every five minutes, then the observations are transmitted to a central facility every five minutes, 24 hours per day year-round. The Oklahoma Climatological Survey (OCS) at OU receives the observations, verifies the quality of the data and provides the data to Mesonet customers. It only takes five to 10 minutes from the time the measurements are acquired until they become available to the public.
For more information on the Oklahoma Mesonet, visit www.mesonet.org.