Ray’s Weather installs webcams, weather stations along Blue Ridge Parkway to improve

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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rays_weather_2013Great news from Ray’s Weather, my favorite weather reporting network:

The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Appalachian State University, and RaysWeather.com have partnered to launch specialized weather websites, BRPweather.com and BRPwebcams.org, specifically for the Blue Ridge Parkway and its 469 mile stretch of terrain from Cherokee, NC to Waynesboro, VA.

Using information from weather stations and webcams installed along the Parkway, BRPweather.com and BRPwebcams.org include custom forecasts, live weather conditions, live webcam images and video, radar and satellite imagery, and climate information. Data from the sites is freely available to researchers in a standard format for projects ranging from park management to research in climate/meteorology, education/outreach, ecology, biology, etc. The Park Service will use the webcams and weather information to improve safety on the Parkway by being more alert to weather changes and adverse road conditions. This unique partnership will be a revenue generator for the Parkway, with a portion of the proceeds being donated back to the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation.

Roughly 15 million visitors travel “America’s Favorite Drive” each year making it the most visited national park. The diversity of terrain can offer surprises for travelers from one destination to the next. BRPweather.com will take the guesswork out of what weather lies ahead. Carolyn Ward, CEO of Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation says, “We are so excited to see the BRPweather.com site go live. The impact this will have on visitors, local communities and on the managers of the Blue Ridge Parkway will be tremendous. As we all know, the weather in our mountains changes from one ridge to the next, and this site will help us all plan better, be prepared, and enjoy our Parkway adventures even more.”

Having weather conditions and forecasting specific to the Blue Ridge Parkway will help visitors avoid severe conditions, allowing for better trip planning and a more enjoyable Parkway experience; however, there is more to this project than just predicting weather hazards. Dr. Ray Russell, CEO of RaysWeather.com says, “BRPweather.com and BRPwebcams.org are not JUST about the danger. Our primary goal is to celebrate the modern, dynamic, live story of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Most of the time pleasant weather is a fundamental natural resource that brings millions of visitors every year. Cool air, glorious sunrises/sunsets, 100+ mile views, sky events of various forms, etc. are compelling reasons to visit the Parkway. Live weather (pictures/webcams) and visitor reports are the best way to tell the story in era of mobile computing and social media.”

Here’s a little bit more detail on the webcams and weather stations from David at Ray’s Weather:

We installed 13 weather stations and use 9 that already exist in the RaysWeather network. We use Davis Vantage Pro2 weather stations that provide a ton of information. It is comprised of a small sensor suite plus a rain collector and anemometer that encompasses recording many variables. The biggies- rainfall, wind direction/speed, temperature, humidity, barometric pressure. The stations transmit wirelessly to a console that is plugged into a computer which then sends the data to the internet. The weather stations run on solar power during the day and battery power at night.

Webcams, 8 new ones and 6 existing in our network. They are a bit more tricky as they need electrical power at the site of the webcam.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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