To protect athletes and give students a deeper understanding of weather, university officials said Texas A&M has installed a multi-tooled system from a data-collection company.
Based in Tallahassee, Fla., WeatherSTEM works to tie together safety, learning and research for A&M’s students. WeatherSTEM has recently installed two units at Kyle Field and on West Campus to measure wind conditions, temperature and humidity at multiple levels using sensors.
“The really exciting part of the program is what we do with all the data and the information those cameras and sensors collect,” WeatherSTEM CEO and founder Ed Mansouri said. “It’s used to drive a website, a mobile application and a social media platform that’s used by many different people.”
A&M is the seventh school in the Southeastern Conference where WeatherSTEM has been installed. Mansouri said the A&M athletics department is using the technology to determine temperatures which are too hot for athlete participation, the number of breaks athletes should take under daily weather conditions and how far lightning activity is from the venue.
“Each of these systems publishes a website that’s open to everyone, and there’s a WeatherSTEM app that’s open to everyone,” Mansouri said.
Assistant director of A&M Athletics David Taylor said he was first introduced to WeatherSTEM during his time at Louisiana State University. When he transitioned to A&M, Taylor said he knew the value of WeatherSTEM services and was intrigued by having another onsite weather station.
“When I talked to Ed about having something set up here, he promised and delivered on setting up a pretty robust system,” Taylor said. “We have multiple weather stations on-site and multiple camera angles connected to the weather stations. It’s something that allows us to really understand the local environment and understand what’s happening around us without necessarily having to interpret as much from other meteorological forecasts.”
In addition to measuring weather conditions, Mansouri said the program offers other educational uses. The data is kept, stored, accessible and utilized in math and statistics classes.
“It’s a really cool and fun program,” Mansori said. “The camera imagery is made available to the Weather Channel, and they use it to augment their live broadcasts.”
Meteorology professor Chris Nowotarski, Ph.D., says the WeatherSTEM sites are a useful way to collect weather observations with high spatial resolutions.
“When combined with our department's existing measurements at the [Texas A&M] Research Farm and the National Weather Service observations at both the College Station and Bryan airports,” Nowotarski said, “This provides a wealth of information for meteorology students to understand how weather can vary over small distances, in what we call ‘microclimates.’”
Nowotarski said the A&M meteorology and atmospheric sciences undergraduate and graduate programs are some of the strongest in the country.
“We particularly hope to grow our program in areas related to extreme weather risks associated with climate change, but also in key areas like weather forecasting, air quality and climate prediction,” Nowotarski said. “Our faculty and graduate students do valuable research in severe weather, atmospheric chemistry, remote sensing, weather modeling, climate change, among other things, that are all geared toward keeping people safe through improved prediction of weather, climate and air quality.”
Each of the two systems has its own websites, social media and live video feed. Additionally, the system’s Twitter feed updates after each score made during home games.
“We’re trying to create an intersection between health, safety and education,” Mansouri said. “That’s really what this program does. It alerts the public when there’s severe or hazardous weather conditions, like dangerous lightning, severe weather advisory, high heat, but it also provides education, as well.”
For more information on WeatherSTEM, check out their website.