WeatherSTEM systems tweet, forecast weather

Photo by Maria Furukawa

Atlanta weather is known to be unpredictable at best, and Tech has a very innovative way to make sense of it all.

Tech’s Emergency Preparedness worked with WeatherSTEM, a Florida-based company that creates full-service weather monitoring stations that collect weather data and contribute to STEM-based K-12 education.

The stations are currently in three strategic locations on campus: Bobby Dodd Stadium on east campus, the Campus Recreation Center (CRC) on west campus and Georgia Tech Police Department (GTPD) headquarters near Center Street.

Tech chose Bobby Dodd and the CRC because those locations see frequent outdoor activity. Each station can locally detect wet bulb globe temperature, which is calculated using temperature, humidity, wind speed, sun angle and solar radiation. The third station sits on top of GTPD headquarters, so it is closest to the Emergency Preparedness office.

The WeatherSTEM systems go beyond just predicting the need for an umbrella; these systems collect and store real-time data for K-12 teachers as part of their curricula, allowing them to integrate data, images and charts from the WeatherSTEM units into their science and math classes.

Each WeatherSTEM unit is part of a larger WeatherSTEM network, which consists of units across the country. Many universities across the country now have these systems. WeatherSTEM even personalizes the units with school colors. Tech’s weather stations are decked out in white
and gold.

“WeatherSTEM presented us with an opportunity to host these stations on campus, and we’re always looking for ways to engage the campus community,” said William Smith, director of Emergency Preparedness. “Weather presents many hazards for us, but much of that can be overcome with good situational awareness among the community. Not only are the weather stations branded with white and gold, but they’re local to Georgia Tech, adding credibility to the weather information you’re viewing.”

Additionally, one of the goals for Tech’s WeatherSTEM units is to contribute data to on-campus research as well as provide data to civilians curious about the goings-on of the local weather system.

“The beauty of the WeatherSTEM system is in its robust capabilities for data collection and analysis in real time,” Smith said.

The WeatherSTEM team has reached out to Dr. Brian Stone’s Urban Climate Lab, a part of Tech’s City and Regional Planning Program (CRPP). The CRPP studies the effects of urban infrastructure on local climate.

Each unit also records 24-hour time lapse videos, producing beautiful images of the skies over Tech. This content is posted on YouTube at midnight every night. Each station has both a Twitter and Facebook feed. The stations post automatically when specific conditions are met:

“It’s windy at Georgia Tech Bobby Dodd Stadium! The wind speed is a brisk 15 miles per hour,”  tweeted the Bobby Dodd station on Feb. 17.

“It just started raining at Georgia Tech Police Station,” tweeted the eponymous system on Feb. 15. “Lightning just hit 3.6 miles from Georgia Tech Police Station.”