NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – When dangerous storms move in, many states rely on a network of weather observation stations called mesonets to provide real-time weather data. Tennessee doesn’t have a mesonet but efforts are underway to get one in place.
Andrew Joyner is Tennessee’s State Climatologist and his office is working to get a mesonet right here in Tennessee. The goal would be to have at least one observation station in each county. “I do think Tennessee is missing out. But I also think that there’s a real opportunity here for Tennessee to lead on this and to be a national leader,” said Joyner.
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The high-resolution data provided from mesonet stations can make a big difference during fast-paced severe weather events like flash flooding, “Let’s say that we have flooding like in Waverly happen again, or something some other similar event. And we really want to see what the rainfall intensity is every 30 seconds or every minute, then we can adjust that. And we can see that in real-time and say we’ve really got a problem here in this area.”
Agricultural interests and emergency managers also benefit from mesonet systems. Soil moisture measurements from a mesonet give farmers a heads up when drought conditions start to creep in. There’s a lot of support for a mesonet from multiple state and federal agencies.
More community support can help get plans for a mesonet rolling. “Talking to your local officials, emergency managers, county commissioners, those sorts of things, could be really helpful and say, hey, we really need this, we really want to better understand our risk in our community, or just in general, understand our weather and our climate,” said Joyner.
Kentucky, which started its mesonet in 2006, would also benefit from a mesonet in Tennessee. Kentucky’s state climatologist, Megan Schargorodski, hopes that their mesonet can act as a guide for Tennessee. “Weather doesn’t stop at the borders. It goes across the borders and so for us in Kentucky It would actually be incredibly beneficial for there to be a Tennessee Mesonet not just for the forecasting, but also for any sort of research to have that data across the border to the south.”