Western Carolina University’s Water Treatment Plant recently received an Honored Institution Award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for 25 years of service observing the weather.
The water plant participates in the Cooperative Observer Program of the National Weather Service in which volunteers help collect weather data useful for forecasting and for longer-term climate outlooks. WCU Water Treatment Plant staff members use a rain/snow gauge for precipitation collection and a temperature sensor that records the high and low temperature each day as well as the current temperature, said Kristy Maddy, supervisor. Each day, staff members record and upload maximum temperature, minimum temperature, temperature at the time of the observation; any amount of precipitation that has occurred over the 24 hour period and what time it occurred; and if there were any occurrences of fog, hail, thunderstorms, ice or damaging winds, Maddy said.
Terry Benthall, cooperative program manager for the Western North Carolina area, said NOAA relies on partners such as WCU, and particularly benefits from cooperative observers that operate seven days a week from the same location. WCU’s water plant is one of more than 11,000 cooperative observers nationally and one of 125 serving the mountain and upstate South Carolina region.