A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new weather station at Isothermal Community College took place on September 10, 2014. Holding ribbon, from left to right: Thad Harrill (Isothermal Community College), Walter Dalton (President of Isothermal Community College), Stephen Matheny (Isothermal Community College), Keven McCammon (Facebook), Ryan Boyles (NC State Climate Office), Tim Owen (NOAA NCEI), and Paula Hennon (CICS-NC)

A new weather station on the campus of Isothermal Community College in Spindale, NC, fills a critical gap in data coverage for southwestern North Carolina. The station became operational on August 14, 2014, and is part of the North Carolina State Climate Office’s Environment and Climate Observing Network, ECOnet, which provides critical weather and climate data from observing stations across the state of North Carolina.

The project was made possible through a private-public partnership that matches grants from Facebook’s Community Action Grant program, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites – North Carolina (CICS-NC), a cooperative endeavor between NOAA and North Carolina State University co-located with NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, NC.

“NOAA’s ability to better understand the environment relies on collaborations like the ones that have made this station a reality,” said Tim Owen, Executive Officer of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville. “This new NC ECONet station at Isothermal will provide the community with a context for local environmental conditions that simultaneously strengthens climate monitoring and assessment at the state and national levels.”

Access to local sources of weather and climate data is particularly vital in a state like North Carolina, where widely varying topography results in very different climatic conditions across the state. “Data from this new station will contribute to the array of benefits provided by the ECONet throughout the state, including improvements in economic development, planning, and emergency response,” noted Otis Brown, CICS-NC Director.

The station also provides vital information for researchers studying climate and weather, and may help Isothermal develop a new generation of researchers.

“These are research grade sensors that provide data used by growers, emergency managers, and National Weather Service to improve forecasts,” said Ryan Boyles, director of the State Climate Office. “These sensors and the data they collect support decision making, but are also available to help train the Isothermal community.”

“This project came to our attention last year after NOAA and the State Climate Office approached Facebook about a suitable location for a station in Rutherford County,” said Stephen Matheny, vice president of Administrative Services at Isothermal. “It made sense to put it on campus and we hope that the information it is recording can be integrated into some of our instructional areas.”

Facebook will also benefit from access to high-quality, localized data, as their data center in nearby Forest City relies heavily on outside air for cooling.

“This weather station is just one more example of Isothermal Community College’s commitment to instilling a love of science and technology in its students and the young people of our region,” said Keven McCammon, site director for Facebook’s Forest City Data Center. “We are proud to partner with ICC, NC State and NOAA to help bring the station — and the valuable data it will generate — to Rutherford County.”

Data from the station, including detailed temperature, pressure, wind, precipitation, and other measurements, are available at at the State Climate Office website.

For more details on the station and the installation process, including a time-lapse video of the station installation, see “Behind the Scenes of our Latest Station Installation” at the State Climate Office web site.

About the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites North Carolina:

CICS-NC, a unit of NC State University, provides collaborative research in support of NOAA mission goals related to meteorological satellite and climate data and information research and development. CICS-NC’s scientific vision centers on observation from Earth-orbiting satellites and prediction using realistic mathematical models of the present and future behavior of the Earth System. Furthermore, CICS-NC is an inter-institutional research center of the University of North Carolina system, a focal point for climate science research, and a facilitator of regional economic development through its engagement activities. www.cicsnc.org