85th AMS Annual Meeting

Wednesday, 12 January 2005: 2:00 PM
Refocusing the Texas Mesonet: a window on Texas weather
Gerald J. Creager, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
Two years ago, the Texas Mesonet was refocused from a loosely associated network of University-owned and operated sensor sites, to a centralized collector capable of incorporating data from a number of disparate systems. The original Mesonet goal of providing a system of real-time weather information to the State of Texas was not changed. In the process, the system has become more responsive to user/stakeholder requests for new products.

Data presented on the Texas Mesonet are collected from over 10 separate groups, including aviation weather reports, volunteer observing programs, fire weather stations, public agencies, industry (with permission) and Mesonet-owned assets. Over 250 stations across Texas are represented, with primary distribution favoring urban areas. The Texas Mesonet makes all station data available for graphical (web-based) and tabular viewing with a 5-minute update cycle. Data are updated within the cycle based on availability and system delivery schedules. Thus, some data are updated hourly, while others are updated more frequently.

Data presentation uses the Minnesota Mapserver system, with station data stored in a PostGresql relational database. ESRI-shapefiles are created for display by Mapserver from database queries using Perl scripts. Current products include surface air temperature, dew point, relative humidity, sea level pressure, anemometry, GPS-derived precipitable water vapor and offshore information for selected sites. A Statewide Level III base reflectivity mosaic with 1 km x 1 km resolution is available for display. Products are available for public access (with some use restrictions based on acquisition agreements) via Web Map Service, Web Feature Service and Web Coverage Service. The OpenGIS Consortium has defined these services as standards for data sharing among compliant systems. Further, the Mesonet provides archive access using web forms or, by separate agreement, directly to the relational database (in read-only mode) via Internet connection.

The Texas Mesonet is active in Level II radar data distribution. Thirty days of Level II radar data are cached online, and available by the LDM/IDD system. Level II radar graphics are created as they are received, for sites in and surrounding Texas.

The Texas Mesonet is now actively pursuing partnerships to deploy additional sites to provide better coverage across the State.

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