All five weather stations of a system called VI Mesonet were completed on Dec. 15 with the mounting of sensors at Sandy Point, St. Croix, and Savannah Cay. These, added to stations at WGOD atop Crown Mountain, on Buck Island in the Charlotte Amalie harbor and on Two Brothers rocks east of St John, complete VI Mesonet, a project conducted by the University of the Virgin Islands on behalf of the Caribbean Regional Association (CaRA).
CaRA was established in 2005 by UVI and the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez (UPRM), in their joint effort to build the Caribbean Integrated Coastal Ocean Observing System (CarICOOS). The weather network will measure meteorological data including air temperature, barometric pressure, wind speed and wind direction. Installation and coordination of VI Mesonet are done by an experienced company named Weatherflow under contract with UVI’s Center for Marine and Environmental Studies, which also facilitated the emplacements. The company will provide data processing, quality-control, archiving, model development and information dissemination.
Installation of the new weather stations required the approval of both the Virgin Islands of the United States and the Federal Fish and Wildlife offices, the V.I. Department of Property and Procurement, the U.S. Coast Guard and private landowners.
Station reports will be provided in real time or near real time after data quality control and computer modeling. Weatherflow will utilize its operational, mesoscale wind model to provide high resolution forecast, calibrated and improved by observations from V.I. weather stations.
The weather station network is one of several recent technological advancements of the ocean observing system. In June, UPRM deployed the first open-water ocean buoy of the ocean observing system south of Puerto Rico. For the last two years, robot underwater gliders, looking like little submarines with wings, have been deployed from both the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to roam the depths of the ocean, collecting useful data continuously. A glider named Drake was launched from UVI and sent to the Canary Islands. Drake’s mission has been aborted, and the glider is presently idle in the Atlantic Ocean awaiting recovery later this month.
UVI is a major partner and sub-contractor with UPRM, which utilizes funds recruited from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to build the ocean observing system as part of the national Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS). CaRA is organized under an agreement between UPRM, as the senior partner, and UVI. Starting in December 2007, other public and private organizations began to join the collaboration through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). Several departments of the U.S.V.I. government are already members. Most recently, the VI Resource and Conservation Development Foundation and the Coral Bay Community Council have joined CaRA by signing the MOA. The opportunity still exists for organizations interested in supporting the ocean-observing system to join.
VI Mesonet data will be available through the CarICOOS Web sites: http://caricoos.org/drupal or http://www.windalert.com/. This site should be visited for other useful oceanic and atmospheric information in the Virgin Islands-Puerto Rico region. At the moment, all data products are presented as experimental products.
For additional information, consult the CaRA Web page, http://cara.uprm.edu, or contact Dr. Nasseer Idrisi, sub-regional coordinator for CaRA at UVI (firstname.lastname@example.org or 693-1380). Photographs are available upon request.