Mar 26 2007

National Weather Service installs new weather station at county airport

Clanton Advertiser

By Brent Maze

Residents of Chilton County now have a way to find out exactly what the weather is here without going outside.

The National Weather Service (NWS) has installed a new weather recording station at the Chilton County Airport, which will monitor and record the temperature, humidity and wind speed and direction.

David Wilfing, NWS data acquisition program manager for the Birmingham office, said the station is part of a statewide and national program to help meteorologists improve their climate data.

"For people living in Chilton County, it's good to hear what is normal weather for Birmingham or Montgomery, but it would be even better for them to know what is normal in Clanton," Wilfing said. "Having this station here is a good way for us to do that."

The weather station records data every five minutes and is uploaded to the Internet each hour. The data is also available to anyone on the Internet at http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/crn/hourly.

"Most people don't really know that they can find this on the Internet anytime," Wilfing said.

A graph can be plotted on the Web site to show changing temperatures during the day or rainfall totals over a given amount of time.

In the past, NWS has relied on a person to record the hourly statistics throughout the day.

"That person has been very diligent in their work. If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't have any temperature data for Clanton, but now we will be able to keep up with weather conditions in real time and with the same equipment that is being used at all other weather stations in the country," Wilfing said.

He added that the data could help farmers keep track of the weather for their crops, and it could also prove useful to pilots.

"Where this station is located is pretty close what it would be in a field, so farmers can keep track of not only how hot or cold it gets but also how long it stays that way. That can help with their crops," he said. "It could also help the pilot when taking off or landing. It doesn't have everything an aviation weather station has, but any information is valuable to pilots," he added.

Chilton County is not the only area that is getting a weather station. Another station recording temperature, rainfall and wind was installed at Craig Air Force Base in Selma. There are also temperature and rainfall stations at Heflin Lock in Gainesville and another in Greensboro.

Wilfing said Sen. Richard Shelby and state climatologist Dr. John Christie have been instrumental in getting these new weather stations installed across the state including Clanton.

"Without their help, we would not be able to install these stations," Wilfing said.