14th Conference on Applied Climatology


The Oklahoma Monthly Climate Summary: Pushing the Real-Time Envelope

Gary McManus, Oklahoma Climatological Survey, Norman, OK; and M. Shafer, D. Arndt, R. McPherson, and S. Blackburn

The Oklahoma Climatological Survey (OCS) has been given this prescribed task, as set forth by the Oklahoma Legislature: “To prepare, publish and disseminate periodic regular climate summaries for those individuals, agencies and organizations whose activities are related to the welfare of the state and are affected by climate and weather.” OCS has met this task, publishing, in a timely fashion, professional and comprehensive monthly and annual state climate summaries since the Survey’s establishment in 1982. Throughout that period, the primary source for climate summary production has been data from the National Weather Service’s Cooperative Observing Network. Due to the reporting method used by cooperative network, the lag time for receiving that data was approximately one month, delaying the publication of the monthly climate summaries by the same period.

Starting in May 2003, the decision was made to switch sources for publication of the Monthly Climate Summary from NWS cooperative data to Oklahoma Mesonet data. The Oklahoma Mesonet is a statewide meteorological observing network that provides real-time data from 115 stations with at least one station in every county. Data are recorded every 5 minutes and include meteorological variables such as air temperature, wind speed and direction, soil moisture, and rainfall. The data are quality-assured exhaustively by a full-time QA Manager on staff at the Mesonet, and over the past several years, we have found that the high-quality Mesonet data are comparable to the National Weather Service cooperative observer data.

The most beneficial aspect of the data switch was to reduce the summary's production delay from one month to nearly real-time. This, in turn, allowed the publication to be synthesized into a mixture of both climate summary and planning tool. Outlooks for the coming month became more appropriate due to the prompt publication date. Another benefit is the inclusion of the wider array of parameters available in the Mesonet's product suite, such as the important drought-diagnostic soil moisture data. Finally, the layout and design of the summary was simplified, yet enhanced, due to the established tools and display software already in place for displaying Mesonet data.

Poster Session 1, Climate Products and Data Sets
Monday, 12 January 2004, 2:30 PM-4:00 PM, Hall AB

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