RIO GRANDE — In what has been described as a lack of weather data coming from the southeast Ohio region, Rio Grande Village, the Rio Grande Community College and University of Rio Grande and a local meteorologist are working to rectify that.
Area meteorologist Brett Wilt has been partnering with local organizations to place small stations across the county in order to capture real-time weather data.
“It’s more of a personal project,” said Wilt. “I went to Ohio University to get my undergraduate and got my master’s at University of Wisconsin-Madison. I moved back here in 2004 and I’m from Gallipolis…I’m passionate about snow forecasting and weather in general and I do a lot of forecasting for southeastern Ohio. The project came about because there’s not really any government or national weather service type observations in southeastern Ohio. It’s sort of a void area of any reliable weather information.”
Wilt said that in today’s world there was a lot of opportunity for local weather data gathering because weather stations were relatively cheap to purchase and might be a few hundred dollars, depending on the model.
“We’re trying to fill gaps of the weather observations at the same time while trying to provide some local benefit,” said Wilt. “I think one way to do that is (partnering with educational efforts). We’ve got one up at South Gallia and River Valley High School and one at URG now as well.”
The weather station was erected above Moulton Hall on Rio’s campus and looks towards the campus Bell Tower.
Chief Information Officer for University of Rio Grande Kingsley Meyer said the campus wanted to be a good neighbor to the village and county. Both organizations contributed money to the station device and camera operating system.
“The best reason for another weather station site is that micro reporting of the weather data through compatible and capable internet-connected weather stations is just a terrific idea that allows the larger weather aggregation sites to have more points of data reporting back in,” wrote Meyer in an email. “Sometimes the rainfall, wind direction/speed and other observations including a barometric pressure recording could assist in determining both real-time observations and future weather event forecasting.”
Meyer said Rio Grande needed a location that could record wind direction without major obstructions and the roof of Moulton Hall seemed ideal. He said that adding the capacity of a live camera to compliment the weather observations made it a more complete reporting station.
The campus intends to share its weather data and camera feed with appropriate websites along with the university and college website in order to have a live shot of the campus Bell Tower.
“Basically, with Brett being so popular with our county and surrounding counties,” said Rio Grande Mayor Matt Easter,” we saw an opportunity to work with him in his forecasts and also bring an element of entertainment to people with the camera. I’m proud of how well Rio village and our university worked together on this project. What the camera is facing is not only iconic to Rio. It’s known far and wide and is a beautiful piece of architecture.”
The three way partnership says it will soon make data available to weatherunderground.com. The identifying name for the Rio weather station is KOHRIOGR2.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.