2.4 TexMesonet: Lessons from a Texas Statewide Mesonet

Monday, 8 January 2018: 11:30 AM
Room 5ABC (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Kantave M. Greene, Texas Water Development Board, Austin, TX

TexMesonet is a statewide mesonet for Texas operated by the Texas Water Development Board. Governor Greg Abbott provided $6.8 million to the agency in emergency funding following the Memorial Day flooding in May 2015. This funding supports flood mitigation projects such as installing new rain and river-level gauges to help better predict extreme rainfall events and impacts. TexMesonet mission is to facilitate the development of a network-of-networks within Texas through integrating existing national, regional, and local weather observation stations. This mission includes installing new weather stations, in parallel to filling-in gaps from the existing station spacing, and developing a user-friendly, online viewer to deliver near-realtime, quality data to forecasters, modelers, and the general public. TexMesonet operates with an overall goal to help all Texans monitor, understand, and use meteorological, hydrological, and soil data as a way to respond to ever-changing weather patterns and extreme weather events.

There are currently over 2,200 weather stations from 13 networks providing data to TexMesonet as part of its network-of-networks. TexMesonet operates 13 stations across 7 counties transmitting temperature, rainfall, and soil temperature/moisture data every 15 minutes. The primary challenges facing TexMesonet include, the sheer size of the state, the complexity of the terrain, and obtaining consistent funding. Neighboring Oklahoma’s mesonet has 121 stations providing state coverage. West Texas Mesonet has 101 stations and covers the Texas Panhandle. The Texas Water Development Board estimates that a minimum of 300 stations are necessary to cover the rest of the state. Texas terrain includes the High Plains, Basin and Range, Hill Country and interior lowlands, and Coastal Plains, with varying annual average rainfall from east to west and temperatures from south to north. These variable conditions introduce challenges in standardizing equipment across the network. Sustainability, maintenance, and funding continuity is vital to the successful operation of any mesonet. Revenue streams can be in the form of state dollars, cost-sharing, data service fees and external funding such as the National Mesonet Program.

TexMesonet aims to be the primary repository for Texas environmental data covering the atmosphere, surface, and subsurface processes that form the hydrological cycle. Although challenges exist, the scale and scope of TexMesonet will provide near-realtime, quality data on a scale not currently available. The network has the potential to greatly improve the meteorological community’s observations of Texas weather conditions through its soil moisture network and ground-truthing for satellite observations.

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