ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The ways that meteorological data is collected and used spans more than just what you see on TV. The New York State Mesonet for example, is a unique network of stations that may just be in you, or your neighbor’s backyard!

In the wide world of collecting weather information, New York State hosts the most advanced and largest Mesonet network among the 29 across the country. Made up of 126 stations scattered across the state,  Interim Programming Manager for NYS Mesonet at UAlbany June Wang explains how these networks measure more than just the basics like temperature, wind, and precipitation. 

“We also measure other things like snow depth. Most other networks do not, solar radiation, soil temperatures, soil moisture, and we are the first camera network at every site,” says June.

And that just scratches the surface. Mesonet sites, such as the Ontario station in Wayne county take measurements important to monitoring air quality, transportation, agriculture, forensic meteorology and even sports forecasting. Field Technician Sam Cherubin emphasized to me the role the cameras play in some of the more extreme weather events happening recently near our area. 

“This is an incredible network just the resolution we get, the space is 15 to 17 miles so we can capture weather as it moves across the state literally… the Buffalo snowstorm, the blizzard actually, the thruway network came in really handy with that because we have roadside network right along the thruway I-90 in the BUffalo area so they were able to capture some incredible data one of our wind sensors measured a 79 mph gust right on Lake Erie and I think that’s a site record for that site,” says Sam. 

Even a middle school teacher from Arcadia used these network cameras to show how different the weather can be from Albany to Rochester. All this available with the goal of providing the best products in hopes of saving lives, protecting property with all citizens encouraged to use the sites to their full potential.

The idea for the statewide project was sparked in 2012, about 10 years ago before becoming fully operational in April of 2018 by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in 2011. They both caused extensive flooding and damage, and when Hurricane Sandy happened in the fall of 2012.

As stated on the NYS Mesonet website, “Hurricane Irene caused 9 fatalities and over $1 billion in flooding damage across the Catskill and Adirondack Mountains. A few weeks later Tropical Storm Lee caused another $500M in damage from flooding along the Susquehanna River valley. In 2012, New York suffered over $5 billion in storm surge flooding from Superstorm Sandy and another $20 million in inland flooding. Following this disaster, FEMA provided New York State with a block grant for recovery and resiliency efforts; utilizing these funds, the Early Warning Severe Weather Detection network, now known as the New York State Mesonet, was established in April 2014. In collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, the Mesonet was designed and deployed by atmospheric scientists at the University at Albany.”