November 6, 2002
AMES, Iowa — The National Weather Association has presented the Larry R. Johnson Special Award to the Iowa State University Department of Agronomy, Des Moines television station KCCI and the Des Moines office of the National Weather Service. The three groups worked to bring together diverse datasets and school-based weather stations on an Internet homepage with real-time access to the weather-forecasting community. The network, called Mesonet, has improved severe weather warnings and developed an archive of weather data useful in research. The award is presented each year to recognize extraordinary accomplishments by an individual or group, which significantly contributed to operational meteorology. It was presented at the National Weather Association (NWA) annual meeting on Oct. 23. "The NWA's theme this year focused on partnerships between public sector, private sector and academic groups. The Mesonet signified this theme and is one of the unique partnerships of its kind in the country. We are doing pioneering work moving data between the private sector and government while benefiting all parties involved," said Daryl Herzmann, Mesonet program assistant in the Iowa State agronomy department. The Mesonet was created in 2001, and the cooperation with KCCI and the National Weather Service began in February 2002. "The original purpose behind creating the Mesonet was to develop a denser network of weather data for agriculture, however the largest and most rapid impact has been improving severe weather warnings," said Dennis Todey, Mesonet director. This award highlights one of the Mesonet's cooperative networks. Other networks include those from the Iowa Department of Transportation, the United States Geological Survey, the ISU Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station and the National Resource Conservation Service. The Iowa Department of Transportation has played a major role in the Mesonet project by providing data from roadway and airport sites. Mesonet staffers are working to identify all available stations in the state and make their data available through the network in real-time to share and archive the data. Funding for the project was provided by the USDA and a private endowment to the ISU agronomy department. The Mesonet is available on-line at: http://mesonet.agron.iastate.edu/.