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Alabama’s innovative weather data network growing

Alabama Power is joining forces with Baron Critical Weather Institute (BCWI) to expand the collection and analysis of real-time weather data in Alabama in an effort to improve weather-related decisions by citizens, first responders and government agencies.

A BCWI weather sensor and webcam was installed Jan. 13 at Alabama Power’s facility on 4th Street near downtown Tuscaloosa as part of a new pilot project between Alabama Power and BCWI. BCWI founder and CEO Bob Baron said weather data and video from the equipment will be sent continuously to BCWI for integration into its mesonet, a high-density weather network it uses to improve public safety through advanced data analysis.

“These sensor reports allow us to see instantaneous changes in the wind, barometric pressure and temperature,” Baron said. “Data and video from the mesonet helps us identify and track severe weather faster, as well as improve the accuracy of winter weather forecasting across the state.”

Alabama Power partners with Baron Critical Weather Institute from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The BCWI, a nonprofit organization, was established in 2018 to research how weather affects transportation. It has since evolved its focus into world-class instrumentation supporting public safety, educational outreach and economic development. Baron said Alabama Power will help BCWI connect its network to benefit public safety agencies, such as the Alabama Emergency Management Agency and the Alabama Department of Transportation, as well as meteorologists at news outlets statewide.

“The goal of the Baron Critical Weather Institute is to install at least one webcam and sensor in every county in the state,” Baron said. “Alabama Power has a great footprint and we’re very excited about them being involved in what we’re doing.”

Alabama Power Engineer Meredith Morgan said the company is partnering with BCWI because it believes the data and video will help both the company and its customers.

“We saw this as a beautiful partnership,” Morgan said. “We saw this as a way to better protect our state, as well as provide our company additional weather information needed to keep our crews safe.”

Morgan said a second BCWI weather data sensor and webcam will be installed at an Alabama Power facility in Birmingham in the near future, with more possibly to follow.

To see weather data and video from the BCWI mesonet, visit BaronCriticalWeatherInstitute.com and click on “Map” in the navigation menu at the top of the page.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)