CRONOS Web site offers real-time, statewide weather information
verybody talks about the weather, but since last September, they can base that talk on accurate, timely, graphically rich information, even if they miss the TV news.
A Web site housed at N.C. State University’s State Climate Office (SCO), the statewide source of weather and climate information and expertise, gives anybody with a computer real-time, instant access to weather information from nearly 200 stations around the state and bordering regions.
The SCO, supported by N.C. State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, developed and operates the free public service.
The point-and-click resource, the N.C. Climate Retrieval and Observations Network of the Southeast (NC CRONOS), provides comprehensive weather observations from 90 automated stations statewide, including offshore buoys, and 110 more stations in surrounding states. The site — www.nc-climate.ncsu.edu/cronos — incorporates climate information from the National Weather Service, the N.C. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Data Buoy Center.
Sethu Raman, state climatologist and SCO director, says the comprehensive database is an extension of the existing N.C. Environment and Climate Observing Network (NC ECONet), itself incorporating the Agricultural Weather Network maintained by his office.
“This Web site and its supporting database give citizens and businesses in North Carolina a source for real-time local weather and climate information and provides a resource not previously available,” he said.
Accurate and reliable weather information is essential for farmers, electric utilities, transportation firms, airlines, the tourist industry, military and crisis planners, public health officials and others, Raman noted.
“Weather observations must be of the highest quality, or they are not useful for decision-making purposes,” he said. “There are many weather sensors out there, but most are not sited and maintained to international standards. The SCO is interested in archiving and disseminating only the highest-quality weather observations.”
Colorful maps and numerous features make navigating the Web site easy.
Ryan Boyles, associate state climatologist, credits his colleagues Robb Ellis and Mark Brooks, among others, for building the database and designing the user-friendly interface.
“Our team of staff and students spent a lot of time considering the needs of likely users, from parents planning a weekend trip to construction firms scheduling work,” said Boyles. “Our maps and tables let you glance at current conditions across the state or, for greater detail, let you drill down to multiple layers of information.”
Climate observations include standard measurements such as air temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction and air pressure. Many stations also record precipitation, and all those maintained by the SCO also report solar radiation, soil temperature and soil moisture.
— Art Latham