MesoWest: Frequently Asked Questions Pertaining to AWIPS

General Questions

What is MesoWest?

It began as a cooperative project between researchers at the University of Utah and forecasters at the Salt Lake City National Weather Service Forecast Office to provide access to current weather observations in Utah. It has evolved into a cooperative project between researchers in the NOAA Cooperative Institute for Regional Prediction at the University of Utah and forecasters at NWS Offices around the west. MesoWest was renamed from the Utah Mesonet to reflect the expanded scope of this project.

Where do the weather observations come from?

MesoWest relies upon voluntary participation of federal, state, and local agencies and private firms to provide weather observations from weather observing networks around the west.

Are RAWS data included?

YES! RAWS observations from the BLM are transmitted as part of the MesoWest file and include the entire West.

Are SNOTEL data included?

YES! SNOTEL observations from the NRCS are transmitted as part of the MesoWest file and include the entire West.

What kinds of data are available?

Standard weather variables from automated sensors are typically reported, but the mix of sensors tends to vary as a function of the needs of the agency that installed the equipment. Attention has been focussed more on wind, temperature, moisture, and pressure than precipitaiton.

What is the purpose of adding Mesonet data to AWIPS?

LDADS software in AWIPS makes it possible to overlay surface observations on satellite, radar, or model output. MesoWest is simply another source for surface observations. Mesonet data streams can also be incorporated into MSAS analyses.

Will the data be available in AWIPS reliably?

We intend to insure that the MesoWest data are as reliable as possible. However, it should be viewed as an experimental product. Occasional outages should be expected, most likely late at night and on weekends.

Contact Information

Who is involved with the incorporation of MesoWest data into AWIPS?

  • John Horel. Professor. Department of Atmospheric Sciences (Overall coordination)
  • Larry Dunn. Meteorologist-in-Charge. Salt Lake City National Weather Service Office (Overall coordination)
  • Mike Splitt. Research Associate. CIRP (Lead Scientist) - Mesonet Data Quality Issues
  • Jason Burks. NWS Western Region SSD. (Mesonet-AWIPS) - LDAD/AWIPS Ingest Issues
  • Randy Weatherly. NWS Western Region. (Communication)

    If I have questions about MesoWest, who should I contact?

    Look first on the Mesonet web page for further details. Or use the mailing list: Your questions or comments will be addressed by the appropriate individual.

  • How Mesonet Data Gets into AWIPS

    How does the data get collected?

    Agencies and firms either collect the data and make it available via the Internet or allow direct dialing of weather stations. Some stations are accessed every 5 minutes, many every 15 minutes, even more once per hour, and some are collected every few hours or once per day.

    How does the data get disseminated and processed into AWIPS?

    Mesonet data are currently processed every 15 minutes at the University of Utah. A small (less than 100kb) file is transmitted via LDM to the Western Region Wide Area Network for distribution to interested forecast offices. LDADS software is then run to convert the surface observations into netCDF format for display in AWIPS.

    When are the data available in AWIPS?

    Conservatively, new observations should appear within 30 minutes of when they were valid.

    Problems and Data Quality

    Has the data been quality controlled?

    The quality of some of the data is being monitored continuously at the University of Utah by automated procedures. However, the quality control flags are not incorporated into the AWIPS data file at this time. Stations with known problems can be blacklisted from displays through existing LDADS software.

    What are some of the known problems of using Mesonet data in AWIPS?

    Use of the Mesonet data is just beginning, and several annoying features have already been identified and relayed to programmers of the LDADS and AWIPS software.

    Access Limitations

    What restrictions are placed on access to the weather and climate information?

    Representatives of the agencies that provide the weather information reaffirmed the following disclaimer during November 1999.

    Data provided by MesoWest arise from cooperative arrangements with many different agencies and commercial firms. The data are intended to be used by personnel in governmental agencies to protect lives and property and by the public for general information. The data may also be used for research and educational purposes. Any other uses of the data from one or more stations must receive written approval from the agencies that installed the weather sensors. Contact the NOAA Cooperative Institute for Regional Prediction to receive information on the sources of the data.

    Due to the nature of data transmission across the Internet and other communication factors, the information provided by MesoWest may not always be current. No warranties are expressed or implied regarding the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information provided by MesoWest. Data users are cautioned to consider the provisional nature of the data before using it for decision making.

    Adding Additional Observations

    How do I get local data available in my office into AWIPS?

    Send email to the Mesowest mailing list for assistance. We're very interested in identifying and incorporating additional local resources.

    How would I transmit observations to other offices?

    The LDM server-client software running at each WFO can be used to broadcast local observations to other offices. Testing is underway to demonstrate how offices can share local data.