National Mesonet Program
The National Mesonet Program (NMP) is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) preeminent Public-Private-Academic Partnership. This first of its kind program leverages non-federal weather data from industry and academia to supplement federal sources and fill temporal and spatial data gaps across the country to aid in the creation of a Weather-Ready Nation. More than 50 partners currently participate in the program, providing mission-critical data to the National Weather Service (NWS) to aid in numerical weather prediction, situational awareness, and nowcasting for the issuance of severe weather watches and warnings.
By aggregating data from all available data sources (federal and non-federal) and data types (surface, upper-air, radar, and mobile (aircraft, balloons, and buoys)), forecasters from the NWS have access to data that, without this program, would be challenging to access or would not be available at all.,. More observations at more granular time resolutions allows for increased severe weather warning lead times during critical weather situations and affords forecasters “ground truth” and greater situational awareness. This allows the NWS to succeed in their mission of protecting life and property and enhancing the nation’s economy. Not only does this program provide additional high-quality data, but it allows the NWS to license data at a fraction of the cost of installing and maintaining their own federal observational network, freeing up resources to focus on other initiatives and agency directives.
Synoptic continues to spearhead this program as the Lead Subcontractor. In this role, Synoptic does all the heavy-lifting for the partners from contracting to aggregating and quality controlling the data to delivering it to the NWS. We are always looking for new and interesting datasets to bring into the program. Please visit the National Mesonet Program website if you’d like to learn more.
National Mesonet Program Coverage
National Mesonet Program History
In 2004, tragedy struck Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Fierce winds associated with an unforecasted storm went undetected by the National Weather Service (NWS) observational equipment resulting in the capsizing of a water taxi and the deaths of five people. There were; however, private non-federal weather stations upwind of the area that were tracking the storm, but the NWS did not have access. Had public-private arrangements for data sharing been in place at the time, it is very possible that weather warnings for the event would have been issued and the incident subsequently averted.
On March 6, 2004, the small passenger vessel Lady D, a pontoon water taxi with 2 crewmembers and 23 passengers on board, was en route from Fort McHenry to Fells Point, Maryland, when it encountered a rapidly developing storm with high winds.
In 2006, as a direct result of the Baltimore water taxi accident, Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski established the congressionally-directed UrbaNet program. Urbanet instructed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to work with the private sector to determine if non-federal weather data sources could be used for decision making. Shortly thereafter in 2009, the National Academy of Sciences “Ground Up” report on establishing a “nationwide network of networks” for hydrometeorological data was published.
This report offered many findings relative to the existing state of our nation’s observing and forecasting infrastructure as well as recommendations for improvements. Chief among them was that the public, private, and academic participants in the Weather, Weather, and Climate Enterprise (WWCE) should work collaboratively and that existing observational assets, many of which were operated by private and academic entities, should first be leveraged to the maximum extent possible before any new federal infrastructure was established. To this end, the UrbaNet program was expanded to include numerous universities that were operating respective state-wide mesonets and thus renamed the National Mesonet Program (NMP).