Cecil weather station has a good forecast

College's facility tracks conditions for the county

May 09, 2004|By Amanda Ponko | Amanda Ponko,SUN STAFF

Cecil Community College has created an on-site weather station that calculates real-time meteorological information as part of the Automated Weather Source's WeatherNet, a network of about 5,000 weather-documenting schools across the country.

Data collected include temperature, humidity, precipitation, barometric pressure and winds. The information is accessible via the college's Web site, www.cecil.cc.md.us.

Gail Wyant of Chester County, Pa., a professor of physics and mathematics as well as meteorology instructor for CCC, said the data provided by the weather station serve as a resource not only for students and teachers, but also for residents throughout the region.

"For people interested in weather, it gives them something to look at," she said. "It makes the weather more real and alive."

The CCC weather station, which began recording data in mid-March, tracks conditions automatically from an open field on the north campus. It is the first meteorological resource for the North East region, Wyant said. Before its formation, residents had to rely on forecasts for Wilmington, Del., and Baltimore.

Data documented from the station are also registered by the Maryland State Climatological Office at the University of Maryland as the official climate record for North East. Included in the data is an archive video from a camera on campus.

Historical documentation of the weather will be an important resource, Wyant said. The records will provide precise meteorological statistics over decades.

Links to weather resources in Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore, as well as national sites such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, are provided on the CCC Web site. If a disaster or security threat were to arise, the data collected could be submitted to the National Weather Service as well as military, governmental agencies and emergency managers to provide specific information for the area.

"In the event of a toxic plume or chemical attack," Wyant said, "this would provide more data to the National Weather Service."

Cecil Community College students registered in meteorology and weather-related classes use the weather station's data as part of the course, Wyant said. Her students follow approaching storms and compare current conditions with conditions during the past 30 years.

"It allows you to bring weather into the classroom," she said. "Everyone is interested in weather. ... There's never a dull moment. Every season you've got something to watch."

Wyant said CCC hopes to add two more weather-related courses to its program and also might offer workshops for teachers to demonstrate the benefits of using the service in their classrooms.

"It's a great resource for teachers," she said. "It may provide a hook to reach children with science."

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