5 Things You Need from Your Weather Service
For obvious reasons, stormwater regulations have a lot to do with precipitation in its various forms. In our experience, it’s also where people struggle the most with their compliance efforts. There are a variety of methods and tools out there to gather and sort your weather data, so in this article I will present a list of attributes that we have found makes a good system for collecting and utilizing weather data.
One of the most common problems we see with weather methods and systems is imprecise data. Now, what I mean by that is they get weather information that does not pertain to their site, but may be from a weather station 10, 20, or even 50 miles away. Sometimes that may be fine, because you get approximately the same amount of rainfall in a larger storm, but for localized events, you could find yourself with a lot of data that does not apply to your site. Find a service or method that gets you weather information for your project or facility. NOAA’s weather radar is a perfect example of a precise weather service.
Another common problem are weather services or stations that have frequent outages or manual methods prone to failure. Whatever you’re using, you need to be able to rely on to give you accurate data you need without frequent gaps in coverage. Now, few systems are perfect and outages do happen, even with the best, but some services have been proven more reliable than others. NOAA is again a good source of information that has proven more reliable than many other services, many of which use NOAA’s data anyways.
Another problem we find with many systems, electronic and manual, is data on precipitation accumulations. Many services provide daily precipitation values, but fail to provide a precise enough timeline to make qualified decisions. A system may be looking for 0.5” of rain to fall in a day, but fails to alert you when that 0.5” of rain falls between 6PM Monday and 6AM Tuesday as it registers as two days. Any system that tracks multi-day events will help you be aware of when your thresholds have been met within the appropriate time-frame.
Many weather services limit themselves to daily precipitation values, but do not provide forecasts. If you work in a state that requires you to perform inspections based on forecasts, this can be a problem. It can also be a problem, especially on industrial permits, where you may need to prepare the day before for analytical or visual monitoring of discharges. If you have a forecasting weather service, you can be confident that you can stay in compliance with forecast requirements. Additionally, if you are aware of an impending weather event, your can have the appropriate materials ready for your discharge monitoring requirements.
The next problem we find in weather documentation efforts is the human element. People get busy and they forget to gather data until it’s too late, or they gather the data, but then they lose it. Whatever system you’re using should have automation to streamline the accumulation of data. It should especially automate accumulations, forecasts, and historical data to free up your personnel to perform other tasks. A service that also provides automated alerts will empower your efforts even further, plugging many of the gaps in your compliance efforts.
By: Charley Beesley