New campus weather station enables real-time monitoring, alerts

Northeastern recently installed a weather station equipped with atmospheric sensors that measure myriad conditions, and the weather data captured are fed into an interactive website and app allowing for real-time monitoring and weather alert notifications. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

A nor’easter pummeled the Boston area on Thursday with more than 10 inches of snow, while more snow fell throughout the weekend. And Northeastern’s new weather station captured all the action.

The university recently installed the weather station on the roof of the Renaissance Park building that is equipped with a suite of atmospheric sensors measuring myriad weather conditions, from temperature and rainfall, to wind speed and wind chill, to dew point, humidity, and heat index. All of this data is fed into an interactive website and app as well as social media—allowing the Northeastern community, and the public at large, to monitor weather at the Boston campus in real time and receive alert notifications.

At 3 p.m. Thursday, during the height of last week’s storm, the station reported the temperature at 20 degrees Fahrenheit, visibility at 0.32 miles, and a wind chill of 5 degrees Fahrenheit.

“In strengthening our condition of preparedness at Northeastern, the launch of the weather station allows for situational awareness of current weather conditions on the Boston campus,” said Todd Kaplan, associate director and emergency manager at the Northeastern University Police Department.

Northeastern partnered with Florida-based WeatherSTEM to bring the weather station to campus, and Kaplan oversees the station as part of his role at the university.

Northeastern’s WeatherSTEM website providing a range of current weather information, including photos and time-lapse videos captured by the station’s camera as well as Twitter and Facebook feeds that offer updates and alerts. Below is a 24-hour time-lapse video of Thursday during the storm.

Anyone can register on the website for free and select to receive notifications ranging from the daily forecast via email to a text message when, say, lightning strikes nearby. “Preferences are set by the individual user, so the options are endless,” Kaplan said.

The station offers numerous other benefits, Kaplan said. For one, it allows Northeastern to partner with the National Weather Service to share verified weather information. For instance, if Northeastern’s weather station reads high winds, that could trigger the National Weather Service to issue a high wind advisory.

Another benefit of the WeatherSTEM system is that Northeastern’s weather station tracks and stores all the weather information it captures, allowing faculty and students to mine the data for a range of research and educational benefits, Kaplan said.

Plus, he noted, “The camera captures some amazing sunsets as well.”