OETA Debuts Special Documentary on Oklahoma Mesonet Celebrating System's 25th AnniversaryThu, 02 May 2019 11:17:32 CDT
The Oklahoma Mesonet is celebrating 25 years of service this year as the nation’s premier network of environmental monitoring stations designed to measure the environment at the size and duration of mesoscale weather events. The Mesonet is unique in the collaborative spirit of its cooperative relationship between both Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma as well as private stakeholders.
“We have a relationship that most other states are envious of,” said Mesonet Agriculture Coordinator Wes Lee in a recent interview with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays. “But it was a logical fit for us.”
Lee explained that the Mesonet’s success is drawn from the different resources each institution provides - OSU with its agricultural and land grant resources and OU with its renown School of Meteorology. The Mesonet is in fact, headquartered in Norman at the state’s National Weather Service office. Lee notes that he is an OSU employee, stationed on the OU campus.
According to Lee, the Oklahoma Mesonet exists today for many reasons. Over time, the scope of its applications has broadened, extending outside its original purview. However, he says from the beginning and still to this day, the program has always kept an ag-centric focus.
“From the beginning, agriculture was one of the bases for putting the Mesonet system together. The other side of the equation was public safety and that’s branched out now more into the Oklahoma Fire Section,” he said. “But agriculture is still one of the key drivers behind the 25-year history of the Mesonet.”
The Oklahoma Mesonet collects weather data across the entire state and does this using a network of 120 public towers equipped with meteorological sensors, spread across all 77 counties. The data collected is then enhanced with information provided by local US Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Research Service offices. While the Mesonet gathers general weather information, it also collects data specific for agricultural use, things like ground-level wind speed and soil temperatures. This information is distilled and leveraged into reports that Lee says helps ag producers make important decisions for their operations.
“We take that raw weather data that’s collected off of the towers,” he explained, “and put them together into what we call ‘decision-making tools’ that use models, research and science to help farmers make decisions on their farm.”
More than 20 states currently operate their own Mesonet systems. However, Lee says Oklahoma’s system is considered chief among them. None, he says, have the longevity and record of success that Oklahoma’s program boasts.
As part of the system’s 25th anniversary, OETA will broadcast multiple airings of a special documentary debuting at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, May 3rd looking back at how the Mesonet has influenced weather forecasting and environmental-related decision-making in the state.
Learn more about the Oklahoma Mesonet by visiting its website, here, or to hear Lee’s complete conversation with Hays, click or tap the LISTEN BAR below.
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