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USF launches Weather Center

TAMPA, Fla. -- Want to know the current weather conditions at the University of South Florida?


USF News, working in conjunction with the USF Botanical Gardens and Jennifer Collins, associate professor of geography whose research focuses on weather and climate, has launched a new weather center to provide faculty, staff, students and visitors a snapshot of current weather conditions on the Tampa campus. A weather bug that provides the current temperature reading is now included at the top of the home page, next to the search box.

More comprehensive data is on the USF Weather Center page, including a live webcam, current conditions, a five-day forecast, radar and historical weather data and resources for hurricane preparedness.

(June 1 marks the start of hurricane season, which continues to Nov. 30. USF hurricane experts are available to media for comment on storms and impact.)

The webcam, pointing north and displaying the USF water tower, is located in the Natural and Environmental Sciences Building.

“We are very pleased to have the weather station at the Botanical Gardens,” said Laurie Walker, director of the gardens. “It gives us an opportunity to talk about weather and climate and plants – connecting people to the environment.”

The new instrumentation will monitor the “micro-climate” at the Botanical Gardens, said Collins. Since the gardens sits in a low-lying area next to a lake, she said, the readings will be a bit different than in other parts of the Tampa Bay area – cooler nights in the summer; warmer during chilly winter nights.

The data collected at the Botanical Gardens is shared with the National Weather Service. Collins, a member of the West Central Florida American Meteorological Society, said there are a number of weather experts, enthusiasts, faculty and students who use the data from the campus for recreation, business and research.

“The weather data is important not only for research and helping people in the community,” Collins said, “but the data – as well as the equipment -- is a very important teaching tool for me.”

Additionally, Collins said, the USF community may enjoy and find useful -- especially when we have severe weather -- the ability to see 24-hour movie loops of the weather from the USF webcam at the Weather Underground site.

Paul Latham, USF Emergency Manager in the Division of Public Safety, said accurate and timely weather information is critical, especially during an active hurricane season.

“This website, in combination with other campus-wide Storm-Ready projects, will allow the USF population to continually monitor weather conditions, and more importantly, provide timely information when situations become more severe,” Latham said.

Latham’s office publishes an annual Hurricane Planning Guide.

Walker said the USF Botanical Gardens is “a living laboratory, an outdoor classroom with loads of exploration and possibilities. The weather station provides yet another learning opportunity.”

“We have a lot of visitors and give a lot of tours and the weather station is a different sort of display for them to see,’’ Walker said. “Weather and climate are important physical factors affecting all parts of our lives -- from the pollinators to the food to the oxygen we breathe. The more we know about the world around us and our connection to it, the more likely we are to conserve and protect it.”


Filed under:Arts and Sciences Botanical Gardens Geography, Environment, and Planning   
Author: Special to CAS