Alachua County Emergency Management (ACEM) has installed three new WeatherSTEM stations funded by the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
The newest stations are located in Archer, Hawthorne and Waldo and will serve as real-time weather information sources in advance of the 2021 hurricane season, which begins June 1.
These WeatherSTEM stations provide current information on temperature, wind speed, lightning strikes and more. Each station is also equipped with a live stream camera, enabling anyone to see current weather conditions at station locations.
"From a hurricane perspective, this is a great way for our residents to know when sustained winds and wind gusts are picking up beyond a safe level," said Jen Grice, acting director of ACEM. "Additionally, WeatherSTEM is a great tool for individuals to make decisions about outdoor activities and events with real-time lightning alerts and rainfall information."
There is also a WeatherSTEM app available for both iOS and Android, where you can select the WeatherSTEM station(s) from which you would like to receive notifications and localized forecasts, according to Grice.
The real-time weather data provided by these WeatherSTEM units will give Alachua County Emergency Management vital information on wind speeds to better inform the public on current hazards.
"Alachua County Emergency Management uses WeatherSTEM for several different purposes," Grice said. "On a daily basis, WeatherSTEM helps us maintain situational awareness on the current conditions throughout the County. In the event of a hurricane, we first use WeatherSTEM to monitor progress of the storm. Our stations are part of a larger, statewide network of WeatherSTEM stations.
Weather followers can check out the dashboard to see all stations and select key metrics to monitor.
With WeatherSTEM stations located in the outlying municipalities, Alachua County has a better indication of exactly when tropical storm-force and hurricane-force winds have reached the area and the severity of those winds.
"We can watch the wind speeds increase in other locations across Florida as the storm moves closer to our area," Grice said.
"Having WeatherSTEM stations in our outlying municipalities allows us to better pinpoint when tropical storm or hurricane strength winds reach Alachua County, and when they have subsided. We will also have a good idea of how strong the winds ultimately were, and how much rainfall we received because of our WeatherSTEM coverage in key locations spread throughout the County."
This data will also serve as a key resource for first responders during tropical weather events.
"The WeatherSTEM data is helpful to our first response agencies who want to ensure their crews are safe when the winds reach dangerous speeds," Grice said.
A list of all WeatherSTEM locations within Alachua County is available online.
For more information, contact Jen Grice, acting director of Alachua County Emergency Management, at 352-264-6520 or email@example.com.