A Mobile Mesonet for Finescale Meteorological Observations

Jerry M. Straka School of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma

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Erik N. Rasmussen National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma

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Sherman E. Fredrickson National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma

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Abstract

A mobile weather observing system (mobile mesonet) was designed to augment existing meteorological networks in the study of severe local storms and other mesoscale weather phenomena in conjunction with the Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment (VORTEX). Fifteen mobile mesonet units were built, each consisting of meteorological instruments mounted on standard automobiles. for high temporal and spatial resolution observations. While the most accurate measurements are possible from stationary mobile mesonet vehicles, accurate observations also are possible from moving vehicles. The mobile mesonet instruments measure pressure (600–1100 mb), temperature (−33° to 48°C), relative humidity (0%–100%), and wind direction and speed (0°–360° and 0–60 m s−1). Onboard each vehicle, a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver and a flux-gate compass obtain universal time, vehicle location (latitude, longitude, altitude), and vehicle heading and speed. A standard laptop computer stores data, computes derived variables, and provides real-time data display. Instrument compatibility with the Oklahoma Mesonet allows for high-quality instrument calibration and maintenance.

The purpose of this paper is to provide a technical overview of the mobile mesonet system. The rationale for choice of instrumentation and justification for method of exposure are discussed. The performance of the mobile mesonet is demonstrated with two examples of data collected during VORTEX-1994 and comparisons with data from an Oklahoma Mesenet site.

Abstract

A mobile weather observing system (mobile mesonet) was designed to augment existing meteorological networks in the study of severe local storms and other mesoscale weather phenomena in conjunction with the Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment (VORTEX). Fifteen mobile mesonet units were built, each consisting of meteorological instruments mounted on standard automobiles. for high temporal and spatial resolution observations. While the most accurate measurements are possible from stationary mobile mesonet vehicles, accurate observations also are possible from moving vehicles. The mobile mesonet instruments measure pressure (600–1100 mb), temperature (−33° to 48°C), relative humidity (0%–100%), and wind direction and speed (0°–360° and 0–60 m s−1). Onboard each vehicle, a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver and a flux-gate compass obtain universal time, vehicle location (latitude, longitude, altitude), and vehicle heading and speed. A standard laptop computer stores data, computes derived variables, and provides real-time data display. Instrument compatibility with the Oklahoma Mesonet allows for high-quality instrument calibration and maintenance.

The purpose of this paper is to provide a technical overview of the mobile mesonet system. The rationale for choice of instrumentation and justification for method of exposure are discussed. The performance of the mobile mesonet is demonstrated with two examples of data collected during VORTEX-1994 and comparisons with data from an Oklahoma Mesenet site.

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