ESRL Global Systems Division
New Ledbetter, Texas Profiler Added to NOAA's Profiler Network
To help improve prediction of the sometimes seemingly unpredictable weather in Texas, a new profiler has been installed near Ledbetter, Texas which is about 55 miles east-southeast of Austin. This profiler is part of the 35-site NOAA Profiler Network (NPN) which provides specific weather information to complement other atmospheric data used by forecasters in formulating the weather forecast. For example, profilers are used to track thunderstorm movement and development, and to locate phenomena that could trigger severe weather. This part of Texas now has a system that continuously profiles the wind speed and direction from the ground to above 53,000 feet, as well as temperature and moisture. The system will provide critical information in support of weather forecasting, aviation, and monitoring climate and air quality.
The new profiler, located at the Lower Colorado River Authority's (LCRA) Cooper Farms site, represents a partnership with the National Weather Service (NWS) Southern Region, LCRA, and Texas A&M University. NWS forecasters use these data to prepare more accurate forecasts, Texas A&M for research and education, and LCRA for planning energy requirements.
Data from the new profiler was formally released on August 19, 2002. The Ledbetter site provides not only winds, but is also equipped with temperature profiling capability (Radio Acoustic Sounding System - RASS), a surface meteorological package, and a GPS system for measuring the total amount of precipitable water vapor directly above the site. All the data are transmitted every 6 minutes to the profiler processing Hub located in Boulder, CO. The data are further processed to high quality hourly data and distributed to the NWS Telecommunications Gateway in Silver Spring, MD. From there the data are then routinely available to NWS forecasters, numerical models, Global Telecommunication System international users, and to everyone via the World Wide Web. The Ledbetter system is the southern most profiler site and is already detecting the birds migrating southward. To view profiler data from any of the 35 NPN sites and view pictures of the Ledbetter site preparation and system installation go to www.profiler.noaa.gov.
Since becoming operational 10 years ago, the NOAA Profiler Network has proven its worth many times over. For example, during the May 3, 1999, Oklahoma tornado outbreak, when a record 52 tornadoes hit southwestern and central Oklahoma, forecasters received critical weather information from the profilers. Last March, the Alaska profilers were vital in determining the strength and duration of the "100-year Snow Event" in Anchorage. And currently, the profilers in Colorado and New Mexico are providing invaluable wind and moisture data for fire weather support.
Name: Margot H Ackley
Tel: (303) 497-6791