11.2 Modernization of the Sterling NWS Wind Tunnel for Evaluating Accuracy of Wind Observations

Wednesday, 13 January 2016: 4:15 PM
Room 350/351 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Gregory Kochanowicz, CyberData Technologies, Herndon, VA; and B. M. Hays, J. Fitzgibbon, and M. Hicks
Manuscript (133.1 kB)

Cyberdata Technologies, in conjunction with the National Weather Service's (NWS), Sterling Field Support Center (SFSC), are currently modernizing the meteorological laboratories located in Sterling, Virginia. Among the laboratories is a High Speed Wind Tunnel equipped to test the accuracy and durability of a wide range of wind sensors that serve in the NWS's backbone of observing programs: Automated Surface Observing System, Upper Air, and Buoy Platforms, as well as other types of sensor suites developed for or within NWS and other government agencies.

The SFSC open-ended Wind Tunnel is powered by a 125-horsepower motor attached to an 8-foot Corsair Plan propeller capable of sustaining winds at 139 knots in a 4x4 section of the ninety four foot long wind tunnel. The tunnel has been in use since 1971, but over the last decade, the technologies used for measuring wind speed and direction, while practical, and at one point top notch, have become antiquated. Cyberdata scientists are working closely with the NWS and the National Institute for Standards and Technologies (NIST) scientists, in order to bring the tunnel back to a state-of-the-art, traceable measurement standard. This includes upgrades to the hardware, software, methodologies, and the quality assurance management. The specific steps to achieve the modernization and what the outcome of this effort looks like will be detailed. Generally, the effort will result in wind measurements tied back to a National Standard that will be promulgated into NWS observations via the SFSC testing programs. These testing programs utilizing the Wind Tunnel measurements ultimately provide guidance on the most accurate wind sensor available on the market for NWS to purchase with a budget on the order of millions of dollars.

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