What is up with our Mesonets

2018-01-05 14:25:35.000 – Adam Gill, Weather Observer/IT Specialist


If you have looked at our Current Summit Conditions page, our Mesonet page, or the Webcams you may have noticed that there is missing information or no current image on our cameras. The reason is many of our sites are very low on power or completely out of power. Almost all of our mesonets are remote and run off of solar panels that charge batteries so that the sites can operate 24/7. At this time of year, we run into a lot of power issues normally due to the shorter days, low sun angle, and frequent cloudy days, and snow or rime that accumulates on the panels. We have been trying to keep up with clearing snow off of the panels when sunny days are expected but we can only get to ones that are easily accessible. As the daylight increases and the sun angle gets higher, the snow will slide or melt off the solar panels on sunny days so keeping the mesonets powered will get easier each passing day.

A couple of days ago,after struggling with power issues for over a month, our mesonet on top of Wildcat finally lost all of its power. Pete, who is in charge of the mesonet, is headed out to Wildcat in the next week to be able to look at it. It didn’t charge at all during the few days of sun we had earlier this week so it may be a faulty charge controller or the Solar panel has become disconnected somehow and we will not know for sure until we can get up and inspect it. This is an important mesonet for us because it has one of our more popular webcams and it is a transfer station for most of our vertical temperature profile. We will have many missing data points on our current summit conditions page until we can get that mesonet back online.

With other mesonets, we have lowered the amount of times data is collected so that we are not running the transmitter as often to save on power until the days get longer. We are in the process of upgrading the batteries to be able to store more power with a big upgrade coming to Wildcat. Larger solar panels may also need to be installed at several sites in lower elevations where mountain shadows or trees block the sun for part of the day preventing more charge time.

Below are some images of working on the mesonets during the winter months
Observer Ryan Knapp getting to the 3300′ mesonet site (far left) last February to clear the snow from bottom Solar Panel
Observers and Pete Gagne working on the 4300′ mesonet on Wednesday January 3rd 


Adam Gill, Weather Observer/IT Specialist

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