WeatherBug: A Meteorologist’s Best Friend

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

RickDayton Rick Dayton
Rick Dayton joined KDKA in September 2009 as a morning news anchor. ...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – KDKA has an extensive network of cameras and weather reporting stations throughout the area.

They’re part of our WeatherBug system and many are based at schools.

Just as the weather bug network helps us with the forecast, it also helps school officials decide if they need to delay or cancel classes.

The PS Trinity WeatherBug helps KDKA make decisions about two-hour delays, or about whether to cancel school.

Trinity Area School District Superintendent Dr. Michael Lucas says there is much more to the system on the roof at Trinity Middle School.

It’s not just the administration that is plugged into the system. KDKA meteorologists are as well.

“We never have as many observations as we would like to have,” KDKA Meteorologis Dennis Bowman said. “The National Weather Service will tell you the same thing.”

Weather bug is a network made up of hundreds of installations all around our region and across the country. It provides real-time data to the KDKA staff as they report and forecast the weather.

“Those are your maximum wind gusts over the past few hours,” Bowman said. “There’s your dew point, how much moisture is at the lower levels of the atmosphere. There’s your lowest temperatures that have been recorded at the selected sites.”

Some of that same information is being used by Jeannette Hartley teaching science at Trinity West Elementary.

“They usually remember the severe weather information,” Hartley said. “They love learning about the hurricanes, the tornadoes — anything severe. They like to see the damage, they like to see videos on hurricanes, tornadoes, of those severe weather is what they like to see.”

If a winter storm is coming our way, trinity says its weather bug system helps them spread the word about modifications to the school schedule.

“It will be able to be used in the community and within the school,” Lucas said. “It is an alert system for any type of severe weather — so our administrators, our teachers, our parents are notified well ahead of time through an Email, text messages, through a phone call.”

The WeatherBug camera at Trinity Middle School points due west — an intentional decision by the principal.

“I like the fact that it shows the storms and weather coming in from the west,” Lucas said. “We have it set due west from Washington, so anyone watching that can see the weather moving into the community.”

And Bowman and our staff use those observations when making their forecasts as well.

“If I can take you out to Lisbon Ohio and we can see rain, we know it is sunny here but the rain is coming in from the west and it’s pouring there we know the sunshine is very short-lived the sunny spell that we are having,” Bowman said.

Helping local communities use technology to their advantage — and yours.

“Being able to survey the landscape with data as well as pictures is very, very helpful,” Bowman said.

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