Weather Stations

Some of the first questions for most people venturing outdoors in Alaska are: how hard is the wind blowing? When will it start to rain?

Weather stations in Prince William Sound provide accurate real-time data on winds, temperatures and precipitation. These data are used as part of a new weather forecasting system for the Sound.

SNOTEL Stations: More than Snow

SNOTEL station at Sugarloaf Mountain near Valdez

Snowpack Telemetry (SNOTEL) stations were set up in the western states in the 1970s by the National Resources Conservation Service to measure precipitation from snow and rain and to feed drought predictions. As of 2007, Alaska had more than 50 SNOTEL stations.

Each automated station measures:

  • Wind speed and direction
  • Air temperature
  • Air pressure
  • Precipitation from rain + snow
  • Solar radiation

Bonus Features

The SNOTEL station on Mt. Eyak, near Cordova, can also measure the water volume of the snowpack. The stations at Esther Island, Port San Juan, Tatitlek, and Nuchek have digital cameras that transmit pictures every 15 minutes to the Internet so the actual weather conditions in each area can be seen.

Data Access and Applications

SNOTEL data is accessible through the AOOS Real-time Sensor Map

Accurate weather data from the SNOTEL network will allow scientists to better forecast the likelihood of wind and rain over 6-, 12-, and 24 hour periods. These data will also allow environmental managers and coastal communities to develop management plans based on the best weather measurements and computer simulations for the Prince William Sound area.

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