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Weather Safety: Ky. Mesonet funding questions

ALEXANDRIA, Ky. (Scott Dimmich) -- If a thunderstorm produces a wind gust of 65 miles per hour in Alexandria, Kentucky, Local 12 meteorologists can deliver that data to you immediately thanks to a network of weather stations around the commonwealth.
That valuable information is in jeopardy because a federal grant is expiring.
"We feel like we're doing something that's important," Doctor Stuart Foster from Western Kentucky University said.  He oversees the commonwealth's official source for climate and real-time weather data.  But after eight years of operation, Dr. Foster says it's time to rethink funding for the Kentucky Mesonet.

"Up until this point, Western Kentucky University has been paying the entire cost of operating the network," Dr. Foster said.  "We're trying to learn how to reach out to people. We're working with local governments we talked about, but we're reaching out to the private sector and other non-profit groups."
The Kentucky Mesonet has stations in 64 counties, including five in the tri-state.  From measuring heavy rainfall to severe wind gusts, these stations give forecasters a way to get detailed weather observations including during severe weather.

"This data again, goes directly to the National Weather Service offices so that there forecasters can use it to make better informed decisions to issue warnings," Foster said.

While asking for money isn't easy, the Kentucky Mesonet says their mission and their data is centered around public safety and supporting agricultural, emergency management, and transportation interests around the commonwealth.

Dr. Foster said, "The ultimate success of the Mesonet will depend on developing these very strong local partnerships so we can share in the cost and also share in the benefits that the Mesonet brings to communities.  At the end of the day, other people will see things the same way and will want to step up and help."
Businesses or corporations interested in sponsoring the Kentucky Mesonet can CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.

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