Kentucky Mesonet at WKU has moved to a new location in Bowling Green. The mesonet is an expanding statewide network for weather and climate data.
Kentucky Mesonet has moved from the main Western Kentucky University campus to the school’s Center for Research and Development. The new location in the WKU business incubator is near a busy intersection of stores and restaurants.
“We’re excited about relocating here because we feel like it will create some synergies and open up some opportunities to be more engaged in public-private partnerships. A little bit more of an entrepreneurial aspect," said Stuart Foster, state climatologist and director of Kentucky Mesonet. "Not that we’re a business, but the data that we provide has a lot of application beyond academics.”
The new offices provide nearly double the space for the staff of 10, as well as a lab to test instruments and room to store equipment.
Kentucky Mesonet collects data on many elements of weather and climate, including temperature, precipitation, wind speed, humidity, barometric pressure, soil moisture, and soil temperature. The data is valuable for agriculture, as well as business and industry.
But Foster says first and foremost, Kentucky Mesonet is a public safety network.
"We provide our data to the National Weather Service to help them with decisions about when to issue severe storm warnings, winter weather warnings, flash flood warnings and such," said Foster. "And our data also goes directly into the emergency operations center at the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management in Frankfort.”
Kentucky Mesonet currently has 71 weather and climate monitoring stations across the state, with two more expected to come online by the end of this year. Foster said he anticipates that number will rise to 80 stations within three years.