Future uncertain for Kentucky weather observation network

Ky. (WYMT) - A Senior Meteorologist with the National Weather Service claims you can never have enough data to use when predicting the weather. Now, the future of a network in Kentucky which provides information for weather officials is uncertain.

There are 64 Kentucky Mesonet stations across the Commonwealth. They collect information for temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, and precipitation on a daily basis.

"The more data you have, the more little features you can see and it really enhances our ability to forecast for future events," said John Jacobson, a Senior Meteorologist with the National Weather Service Jackson office.

Jacobson says the Kentucky Mesonet network compliments the doppler radar.

"When we're putting out say a flash flood based only on the radar, we have much less confidence than when we have a bucket down there measuring the water and knowing exactly how much rain is falling into that bucket," Jacobson said.

WYMT's Sky Alert Meteorologist Shane Smith agrees the Kentucky Mesonet makes predicting the weather more reliable.

"Not only is it quality data and a large quantity of it, but it's real time data. We're getting that data every five minutes, whereas the reports from the local airports, those are only hourly," Smith said.

Now officials with Kentucky Mesonet are working to secure more funding from local, state and federal sources. They say at the current rate, the network could be shut down.

"But at the end of the day, that's something that the tax payers and our elected officials have to decide. And if they value it, then I think we'll find a solution," said Dr. Stuart Foster, the Director of Kentucky Mesonet.

Western Kentucky University is currently funding the bulk of the Kentucky Mesonet expenses.

Construction of the Kentucky Mesonet was federally funded through the National Weather Service and built through the Kentucky Climate Center at Western Kentucky University. The first station was set up in 2007.

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