Mobile weather stations come to New Bern

POSTED: 4:46 PM Apr 09 2013   UPDATED: 6:07 PM Apr 04 2013
0404 Airport Weather Station
Craven County -

A six-part weather station will roll into New Bern for a year long stay at the Coastal Carolina Regional Airport.

The mobile set up is part of a research project put on by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA,  to study atmospheric rivers.

"We're really excited that the folks at NOAA are trying to do some forecasting on precipitation," said Coastal Carolina Regional Airport Director, Tom Braaten.

NOAA is leasing the land and paying for the electricity to run the station while it is on the airport's campus. A group of scientists will be in eastern Carolina in May from Colorado to install the equipment. Following that, the station will operate unmanned, constantly scanning the skies.

"One of them is probably not going to stand much higher than this," said Braaten, holding his hand about chest high, "and the other one wont be more than six feet tall or so."

The installation spot will be just off of Williams Road, within the fenced in area of the airport.

The data these instruments are collecting are for a research project about atmospheric rivers. Atmospheric rivers are streams of concentrated water vapor high above the ground. They move like rivers, pushing rain across the globe.

According to NOAA, atmospheric rivers account for 30-50% of all west coast annual precipitation. Extreme cases can also be linked to deadly flooding.

Most of the research has been in regards to the western part of the country. But while the weather stations are here, local meteorologists will be able to access the near real-time information.

"The information will be sent back to their headquarters, and luckily we'll be able to see it near real-time on their website and track how its going. So we'll have an idea of what progress their making." said Braaten.

One of the devices being installed is called a wind profiler. This will measure the wind above it in a vertical column. It will help with early detection of sea breeze circulations.

During heavy rain events, another device, and S-band radar, will help with heavy precipitation analysis. S-band radars differ from our typical NEXRAD doppler radars because their wavelength is bigger and their frequency is lower. These properties allow the radar to measure rain up to 100,000 feet in the atmosphere.