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Pierce County to receive additional NDAWN tower

By Staff | Apr 17, 2020

While it is unclear at this time if or how the current COVID-19 pandemic will impact the schedule, the North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network (NDAWN), is scheduled to begin installing some additional weather stations next month in preparation for the 2020 growing season. Installations will begin in the Fargo area.

A new NDAWN tower station is also scheduled to be installed near Wolford, ND in time for the 2020 growing season. The Devils Lake Basin Joint Water Resource Board will be funding the initial cost of the new tower station which is estimated to cost $14,000. According to Joe Bohl, Pierce County Water Board and Pierce County Representative for the Devils Lake Joint Water Resource Board, he has secured three additional sponsorships and one increased sponsorship to help offset the increased maintenance costs of adding a second NDAWN station. Maintenance costs for the two stations are estimated to be $1000-1200 per year. Past sponsors of the existing NDAWN station located west of Rugby include: Northern Canola Growers Association, Envision, Farmers Union Elevator and the Pierce County Agriculture Improvement Association.

The North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network (NDAWN) consists of 91 stations distributed across North Dakota and border regions of surrounding states. Each station adequately represents all weather conditions except rainfall, in a 20-mile radius area. NDAWN stations are identified by the name of a nearby city or town. The number and letter(s) following the name indicates the distance in miles and direction from the city’s edge. For example, Rugby 3W means the station is located approximately 3 miles west of Rugby.

Stations provide five-minute averages, hourly averages or totals for all variables, and hourly maximum wind speed. It also provides daily summaries consisting of maximum and minimum air temperature, maximum wind speed, times of occurrence, and various totals or averages for all other variables in English or metric units.

The majority of NDAWN sites, including the Rugby station are 3-meter (10 ft) tall steel tripods equipped with sensors at 3 meters (10 ft) to measure wind speed and direction. A sensor mounted at 1.5 meters (5 ft) measures temperature and humidity. The station also includes temperature sensors to monitor bare soil and turf soil temperatures. A tipping bucket rain gauge is located approximately 3 meters (10 ft) from the tripod. It is attached to a steel pipe 75 centimeters (30 in) from the soil surface. Additional equipment for tracking air temperature inversions was also added to the Rugby station last year.

The new NDAWN station near Wolford will be a 10-meter (33 ft) aluminum tower, which is cemented into the ground. Currently there are only 26 of these stations in the NDAWN Network. NDAWN station towers consist of 4 temperature sensors, which include deep soil temperatures at varying depths down to 225 centimeters (89 in), 5 soil moisture probes at varying depths as deep as 100 centimeters (39 in), a camera, 2 wind sensors located at 3 meters (10 ft) above the soil surface and also at 10 meters (30 ft) and a rain gauge.

The added features of the Wolford NDAWN station, particularly the deep soil temperatures and soil moisture probes will aid the Devils Lake Basin Joint Water Resource Board in predicting and managing water influx within the Devils Lake Basin.

In addition to agriculture and water boards, other people across the region regularly use NDAWN data for a wide variety of purposes. For example, most state and local government agencies, and all federal agencies in North Dakota use these data to document weather conditions related to storm damage, accidents, crimes, and regulatory violations. Other entities who use these data include the news media, various educators, students and weather hobbyists.

The web address to view the NDAWN web site is www.ndawn.ndsu.nodak.edu/ . NDAWN station data can also be viewed from any Web-browsing device, including smartphones.

The NDAWN App is available for both Apple and Android devices. Once the App is installed on your device, you will have the ability to receive notifications including when an inversion is detected at the NDAWN station(s) you choose.

– Submitted by Pierce County NDSU

Extension Agent Yolanda Schmidt

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