Q&A: Chris Fiebrich, Oklahoma Mesonet
Q: Would you provide a historical look at both how and when the Oklahoma Mesonet was started?
A: One key event that initiated the idea for a statewide Mesonet came with the disastrous Tulsa flood of 1984. Kenneth Crawford was the area manager for the National Weather Service at the time. He could see the need for real-time weather observations at the county level — and he knew it could allow for better warnings to protect life and property. When Crawford moved to the University of Oklahoma in the late 1980s to become the director of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey, he focused his efforts on establishing a Mesonet. At the same time, there were efforts at Oklahoma State University to establish an agricultural weather network across the state to aid growers and producers. Ron Elliott was the focus for Mesonet activities at Oklahoma State University. Elliott and Crawford partnered with dozens of agencies and private companies in the state to develop the proposal for the Mesonet. In 1990, Gov. (Henry) Bellmon awarded funds to Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma to install the network. The strong OSU/OU partnership in the Mesonet continues today.
Q: Any recent advancements?
A: We are always evaluating the latest technologies in meteorological sensors. We are currently prototyping pavement sensor technologies with the National Weather Service and installing groundwater level measurements at some of our stations through partnerships with the Oklahoma Water Resources Board and the Agricultural Research Service. Although we are in a constant mode of recalibration and refurbishment, a lot of the sensors on our towers are approaching 20 years old. The Oklahoma State Legislature recently awarded us $1.2 million in one-time funds to replace virtually every piece of equipment on our towers. That will allow us to measure the state's weather for the coming decades.”
Bryan Painter, Staff Writer
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