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New system tracks local weather

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By Sharon Graves

The News-Democrat

The old saying goes if someone doesn’t like the weather in Kentucky, wait 15 minutes and it will change. Residents now have the ability to track changes in the weather in real time when the new Kentucky Mesonet system came online.

The Kentucky Mesonet is a network of automatic weather and climate monitoring stations criss crossing the state and the station just erected in Carrollton is the 24th of its kind, according to Stephen Struebig an electronics technician with the Kentucky Mesonent.

Struebig, David Pedigo, Jason Givens and Dana Grabowski were on site Tuesday, May 5 wiring up the tower and getting all the parts in place.

The station is located on U.S. Highway 42 on property owned by Arkema and will be transmitting data such as temperature, relative humidity, dew point, wind speed and solar radiation (sunlight), according to their website kymesonet.org.

The unmanned station has its own power source, a rain gauge, and several other indicators that collect weather information every five minutes and then sends it to the website every 15 minutes.  Data is collected and disseminated by Western Kentucky University at the Ky. Climate Center, housed in the Department of Geography and Geology, in the State Climate Office, Struebig said.

The statewide project began in 2006 and hopes to add another 76 towers within the next five years, according to county extension agent Tim Hendrick.

Hendrick has worked with WKU in getting the station in Carroll County for over a year and was instrumental in securing local funding needed to complete the project.

The stations are primarily funded through a federal grant, but local communities must provide a site, fencing and electrical service.  

Hendrick brought the project to the attention of the Community Advisory Panel a year ago to help with that funding. CAP members agreed to provide $3,000 towards the purchase of fencing. The remaining $2,000 came from Agricultural Development as part of the tobacco settlement and from the extension service office.

Arkema donated the site for the station and will be paying the electric bill which amounts to burning one 60 watt light bulb 24 hours a day seven days a week, Hendrick said.

Local electrician John (Tudor) Booth got materials donated and put in the initial wiring, Hendrick said.  “A lot of great things have happened in the community with this project,” Hendrick said.  

The data is disseminated through the www.kymesonet.org website and is free to anyone. The information gathered will be useful to emergency managers, industries, farmers and the general public, according to Struebig.  “This data can be widely used and has many applications,” Struebig said.

Once on the website individuals can go to the home page and click on Carroll County on the map and the local time and date and weather data will come up.