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New Swampscott weather station provides up-to-the-minute information

Meteorology students, from left, Colin Reiling, Stephen Whipple and Patrick Sheehan measure the dry-bulb temperature and wet-bulb temperature outside of Swampscott High School. (Spenser R. Hasak)

SWAMPSCOTT — Tracking the weather will be a breeze thanks to the high school’s new weather station.

Towering over the educational hub of the town sits the Joe Tribendis WeatherSTEM Weather Station. The high-tech equipment, installed Monday, is named in remembrance of the longtime supporter of the Swampscott Education Foundation (SEF) and Swampscott Public Schools. The new system provides up-to-date weather data and has live sky cam images that can help students predict weather and climate patterns.

“I now have a better understanding of weather and climate,” said junior Dylan January, co-president of the school’s new weather club. “It’s a useful tool, even if you don’t want to become the next weatherman or meteorologist.”

The high school and the SEF partnered together on this project and received a $14,300 grant for the system, including five years of upkeep, handheld devices for the classroom, and a subscription service to national weather modeling software.

WeatherSTEM also provided the high school with social media accounts designated to the station. Aside from the rooftop equipment and built-in curriculum, the program comes with a mobile device app that anyone in town can download and access.

“Any of our coaches can get the app and can set weather alerts, like whether lightning is coming and how far away it is,” said Swampscott High School chemistry and meteorology teacher Brian Casey.

Before the Swampscott station was installed, the only weather data available to the town came from equipment in Logan Airport and Beverly, according to Casey. Now, with their own outpost, students will learn to mine data, which is the process of comparing data sets from STEM stations throughout the country.

“Kids are faced with so much data these days and a lot of them don’t even know where it comes from,” said Casey. “This is their data. It’s here and it’s above their heads.”

The weather station includes a vane to decipher wind direction, an anemometer to check wind speed, a thermometer to check the temperature, a hygrometer to test humidity, a self-emptying rain collector, solar radiation and ultraviolet sensors, and a solar panel for daytime power. There are also two cloud cameras for live streaming and time-lapse images, and soil sensors to measure the temperature and moisture in outdoor raised gardens.

The school wants more than just students and faculty to take advantage of the town’s new weather station, according to STEM coordinator Brandy Wilbur. Swampscott residents are all welcome to download the mobile app and use the data and weather alerts to their advantage.

Meteorology students and weather club members will not be the only ones using the equipment, according to Wilbur. The school is eager to open the technology up to other curriculums, like math.

“I think it’s really cool,” said junior and weather club co-president Nick Reiser. “It makes our school look good and gives us bragging rights about knowing what it all means. It gives me a sense of pride.”

 

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