1 866 625 8620
courtesy of LDV/Lynch Diversified Vehicles
Fire Department, Illinois
the Weather is a "Professional Thing to Do"
Weather information has become increasingly
important in fighting and containing fires, and especially in handling
hazardous materials fires, spills and other incidents. Some fire
departments install a Capricorn weather station at headquarters,
while others take one on the road in their mobile
The Westmont (Illinois) Fire Department specified a Capricorn weather
station when they ordered a new mobile command vehicle from LDV/Lynch
Diversified Vehicles. "We asked LDV for an opinion on reliability
and Capricorn came up. They said they had good experience with them
before," noted Chief Frank Trout of Westmont.
"Capricorn is the most widely used weather station in our mobile
command centers," responded Larry LaGuardia, Division Director at
LDV. "It is very quick and easy to install. It is user friendly
and provides the necessary information for the widest range of customers."
Weather Updates Important
At Westmont, the communications van is shared with MABAS Division
10, a collection of 18 fire departments in the neighboring areas.
"If there is a hazardous materials incident, or a fire, or EMS incident,
we send our van to it and it becomes the mobile communications point,"
noted Chief Trout.
"When we're outside fighting fires or hazmat or whatever it may
be, it's good to know wind speed and direction, temperature (Is
it going up or are we going into a freeze zone?), and humidity.
A lot of these things pertain to hazardous materials incidents.
If we have a leaky cylinder of a toxic chemical, we can plot wind
speed and direction to help us determine how fast the substance
is going to blow, whether is it going to roll along the ground or
dissipate into the atmosphere."
"Monitoring the weather is not so much a regulation, it's a professional
thing to do," commented Chief Trout. "We have weather updates if
we're on a scene and we're out there for a long period of time.
For example, maybe we're doing an ice rescue, let's say a car goes
into one of the lakes. When we get there it's 40 degrees. All the
sudden, the wind changes out of the north, and now we have below
freezing temperatures coming in with wind chill. Then we have to
make other arrangements for the crews out on the scene."
The Westmont communications vehicle is also utilized by the police
dept. "We run it for them," said Fire Chief Trout. "We utilize the
van to support police activities for their SWAT teams. We've been
out when they've had a barricaded subject with a weapon. It's good
to monitor the weather because we have people out in the elements.
If there's a change in the weather or if they're going to be using
any type of tear gas, they need to know wind speed and direction,
and so on..."
"The third agency we support is our state emergency services and
disaster agency for the Village of Westmont. We haven't had a hurricane,
but we do have severe weather and the tornadoes."
Westmont has made good use of their vehicle. "We've had the van
out about 23 times in the past year," said Chief Trout. "The weather
station is really simple to set up. We take a collapsible tower
that affixes to the side of the van. This 30-foot tower is extended,
plugged into the side of the van, and it's operational. One-two-three."
Whether routine weather or natural disaster, be prepared
First El Niño now La Niña! The effects of these phenomena have
brought heavy rains and flooding to parts of the United States,
droughts to other parts of North America and other areas around
the globe. It seems that every day a weather disaster occurs somewhere.
Where will the next one strike?
Global Warming?! 1998 was the warmest year our planet
has experienced since weather records have been kept. The decade
of the 90s will likely go down as the warmest also since man began
measuring temperature. Is that a signal?
It does not take a warming or cooling of the central
and eastern Pacific Oceans near the equator to generate a disaster.
Heavy rain and droughts seem to occur whimsically in the earth's
weather patterns. Historically, we know that weather is a killer!
It shows no mercy. It does not know rich from poor. It knows no
racial barriers. It does not stop at state or country borders. Everyone
Severe weather might strike, but not greatly affect
those who are prepared. And generally there is time to prepare.
But time is not always an ally in disaster preparedness.
The amount of time depends on the impending weather-related disaster.
Different weather phenomena have different lead times. It is much
easier to forecast the path of a hurricane a few days in advance
than it is a severe thunderstorm for the next day. For tornadoes,
the preparedness time may be only a matter of minutes.
What is the predominant weather feature in your area
during each season of the year? What are the risks inherent in each
season? Whether the risks are as common as high fire danger in the
summer and icy roads in the winter or as threatening as the disasters
of tornadoes and hurricanes, adequate preparation can minimize those
risks and reduce the damage.
Part of preparedness is knowing where to find accurate
weather information. One helpful internet site is www.nws.noaa.gov.
This government site will get you anywhere in the universe. I go to www.atmos.washington.edu
at the University of Washington for satellite pictures.
Another aspect of preparedness is having a source
of reliable local weather data.
On-site or local monitoring is important because
weather conditions can vary widely over a short distance. Take the
Portland metro area for instance. When we are in the "breaking up"
phase of a cold spell, it can be raining toward the coast, freezing
rain downtown, sleet at the airport and snowing farther east in
the Columbia Gorge.
Also, with your own instrumentation, you can note
trends and changes in temperature and wind - very important for
short range forecasting or "nowcasting." With your wind gauge you
can determine if the wind is increasing, decreasing, or changing
direction. With your temperature instruments, you can see if the
temperature is rising or falling. Depending on the season, each
of these factors can make a difference in safety.
With the affordable technology available today, on-site
weather monitoring as well as general forecast information can help
your organization be prepared for any weather event.
CWS welcomes George Miller, CCM, as our new Weather Watch columnist.
Mr. Miller was Area Manager/Meteorologist in Charge for the National
Weather Service in Portland, Oregon until 1994. He teaches classes
on the weather and climate of the Pacific Northwest at Portland
State University, Clackamas Community College, and Marylhurst University.
For information on Mr. Miller's spring term on-line course, visit
View 32 Version 5.0
offers new desktop options and faster upload
Columbia Weather is pleased
to announce Weather View 32 software version 5.0 for Capricorn
Weather View offers a user-configurable desktop for
real-time viewing of sensor measurements and calculated parameters
and automatically compiles a database. Drag and drop placement of
objects, an alignment grid, and other features make designing a
custom display intuitive and fast. Weather View includes a climatological
database of over 6700 sites around the United States, so you can
compare your temperature and rainfall readings to the historical
Weather View's sophisticated alarm feature allows
definition of high and low limits for any weather parameter, plus
rate of change for outside temperature, rainfall and pressure. Once
a parameter limit is violated, Weather View
32 weather station software will alert the user via audible
alarm, numeric pager, alphanumeric pager and/or email message.
Graphs and Reports
One of the most useful features is Weather View's
powerful and flexible graphing capability. Users can configure all
sorts of graphs and up to five graphs can be uploaded to an FTP
server for inclusion in your web site.
Four standard types of reports can be created including
Daily Max/Min, Daily Summary, Monthly Summary, and Climatological.
Weather View also has the ability automatically to send email reports
of current weather data to several email addresses at specified
intervals or selected times.
Your Weather on the Web
Weather View 32 makes it easy to publish your weather
information on the Worldwide Web. Weather View can upload monitoring
screens, graphs, and 24-hour text reports to your web site at a
user-defined interval or at selected times. Visit the CWS web site
to check out some of the web publishing options that we have implemented.
New Features of 5.0
An exciting new feature of version 5.0 is the ability
to place information downloaded from the internet on to your real-time
monitoring screen including Doppler maps, satellite images, and
other data for your specified location.
A web interface improvement is that Weather View
now can refresh just the data instead of uploading an entire new
screen graphic at every update. This works much faster, so you can
update your web site more often without tying up your computer.
Version 5.0 also has an improved wind run dial for
the monitoring screen. The new dial will display percentage of wind
by direction. This feature will be particularly helpful for users
dealing with hazardous materials.
Three options are available with added costs: Multi-Station
Weather View for access of up to 50 remote stations; Net Weather
32 for computer networks; and a new broadcast option for TV and
See for Yourself and Upgrade
Weather View 32 version 5.0 sells for $249. For previous
version users, the upgrade price is $125. Mention this ReCap article
when you place your order for a 10 percent discount.
and click on "Current Weather" at the bottom of our home page to
view some Weather View features. You can link directly to the Weather
View web site from the Weather View bullet under the Weather
Observer Network Forms
Kleeman, Jr., AWON president
Through the 1980s and 90s, weather organizations were formed that
focused on the interests of weather observers of all walks of life,
whether meteorologists, climatologists or even the avid amateur
weather hobbyist. Some of these organizations have come and gone.
The reasons behind these organizations expiring are many. The bottom
line is, however, the leaders of these organizations began to lose
focus on the primary goal to be a forum for weather enthusiasts
to share their knowledge of weather and climate - to share their
own observed climate data and to write about their own experiences
with extreme weather related events.
Then, last year, another organization was established - one with
great promise to be with us into the next century. The American
Weather Observer Network (AWON) began operation as an internet site
on August 23, 1998. Its sole purpose is to bring together weather
observers from around the entire world to share their own observations
and weather related stories that would be included on the web site.
The AWON entered 1999 with its first (very much talked about) monthly
newsletter publication, entitled the American Weather Page.
The American Weather Page newsletter consists of articles
on weather events from the previous month, as well as other articles
of interests in the study of our atmosphere. It includes a section
for the membership to submit their own observations for publication.
The AWON web site has continuously updated information on the organization
and many links to other weather and climate sources that can be
found on the internet. There is a separate page for weather observations
submitted by AWON members.