Vineyard joins hurricane data network
Last Thursday, WeatherFlow technicians installed wind-monitoring equipment capable of withstanding hurricane force winds at the Lagoon launch ramp in Vineyard Haven. The installation adds Martha's Vineyard to a national weather data collection network designed to provide storm information to government agencies and academic institutions.
There is a more immediate benefit for local boaters, who know well that mainland weather predictions do not always hold true for Martha's Vineyard. In the near future, information from the monitoring station will be available online.
WeatherFlow, a California based company that specializes in monitoring, modeling, and forecasting wind and weather conditions in coastal zones, is currently in the second phase of creating a "Hurricane Network." The company expects the system will be competed by the start of the 2009 hurricane season on June 1.
In all, 100 weather stations spread along the coast from Texas to Massachusetts will monitor weather conditions. According to the company, stations are placed near coastal urban concentrations and are specifically designed to withstand the conditions associated with a hurricane striking land.
WeatherFlow officials first approached the town of Tisbury in September 2008 for permission to erect a station for a minimum period of four years. In exchange, the town would receive free data and contribute to the effort to better understand storm dynamics.
The cost of the reinforced cement pole and solar-powered instrument package designed to withstand winds of 200 mph is approximately $25,000.
In a telephone conversation, David Morris, WeatherFlow meteorologist, said the company is arranging to provide data to local emergency management personnel, Tisbury harbormaster Jay Wilbur, and the town's website.
Mr. Morris said the monitoring stations would extend from Scituate to the Florida Keys and along the Gulf Coast to Corpus Christi in Texas. "It's quite the network, the first of its kind," said Mr. Morris. "There are obviously plenty of weather stations along the coast. But when a hurricane has made a landfall in the past, usually all the weather stations break before the eye comes ashore so there isn't much data from these storms."