Tuesday, 24 January 2017: 9:15 AM
308 (Washington State Convention Center )
Each year millions of people visit the public lands that preserve our nation’s most dramatic and beautiful landscapes in search of recreation and adventure in “the great outdoors”. Many of these expeditions take patrons afoot into complex terrain where localized meteorological influences present unique and sometimes quite hazardous environments. Such local weather effects that threaten the wellbeing of hikers and campers exposed to the elements in west Texas prompted the National Weather Service to partner with Texas Tech University, the National Park Service, and Texas Parks & Wildlife to deploy interactive touch-screen weather safety kiosks at two popular wilderness park visitor centers. The first kiosk was deployed at Guadalupe Mountains National Park in 2011 following local research aimed at improving forecasts and warnings for mountain wave-induced wind storms common to the area. Similarly, another study focused on dangerous heat-island effects led to a second kiosk at Palo Duro Canyon State Park in 2016. Furthermore, both parks are prone to impacts from wildland fires that have resulted in several closures in recent years. Both kiosks utilize research-grade automated surface observing stations (that also serve as West Texas Mesonet sites) strategically located to measure extreme weather conditions within the parks. From each kiosk, visitors access current and forecast conditions for the visitor center and park trails, hazardous weather watches, warnings and advisories. Additional information includes educational material on the weather’s local effects, historic events and outdoor weather safety advice specific to each park, as well as fire danger information and forecasts for regional points of interest. This presentation will document the multi-agency collaboration effort and capabilities of each project to provide a blueprint for expansion of similar weather safety kiosks at nature parks across our Weather-Ready Nation.
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