Yes, you read the title correctly.
Sometimes I feel like a strange attractor for weather station chaos. Here I am at home tonight minding my own business, in my home office and I have the TV on. JEOPARDY comes on. Alex Trebek announces the categories…and I pay little attention until the last one is announced and he says “National Weather Service”. I practically got whiplash turning to look at the TV. In 25 years of watching this TV program, that is a category I never expected to see.
Then to explain the category, up pops one of the “clue crew” people standing in front of the NWS office in Upton, New York, in the parking lot.
I didn’t hear a single word she said, because my eyes were transfixed on what was right behind her: a Stevenson Screen and MMTS just a couple of feet from the parking lot with the brick walls of the NWS office right behind it.
WTH!? Then it was gone.
I waited out the first round of JEOPARDY hoping to see more, but the contestants avoided the NWS category. Finally with nothing left they started into it. Then there it was again, the NWS station with visitor parking privileges.
After acing the category (the final answer was supercell) I decided to see if I could find this NWS office in Upton and maybe get a picture. I found that and more.
My first simple Google Image search found it right away, a photo taken during an open house on a Skywarn page:
It did show the proximity to the brick building, but it really didn’t tell the whole story of what I saw in the TV shot. What was funny was that in the JEOPARDY segment, the NWS employees had apparently done some “sprucing up” and had painted the legs of the shelter and the MMTS mount pole a blue color to match the logo color of the NWS emblem over the office door:
I found the above picture and the one below at the NWS Upton web page where they have a “virtual tour” of the facility. Here is another angle from the web page that shows the overall NWS complex, including the NEXRAD Doppler radar tower:
Looking at the style of the automobiles, I’m guessing these photos were taken sometime in the early 90’s when this office was opened. What is interesting about these photos, besides the siting issues with proximity to parking and the building, is the fact that the Stevenson Screen door is facing SOUTH rather than the requisite north. The idea is to keep direct sunlight from hitting the thermometers when readings are taken.
I thought perhaps this station is purely a “figurehead” used for school tours, etc, but then I thought: “Why would they want to show it being done incorrectly?”. I checked the NCDC MMS meta-database to see if the station was active. Oddly I couldn’t find the right station in Upton in the database. Poking around again at the NWS Upton website I found out why: This used to be New York City’s station. It was once on top of the RCA building as I discovered from their virtual tour:
|Dec. 28, 1960 to Oct. 24, 1993||RCA/GE Building
30 Rockefeller Center NY, NY
Once knowing it was the NYC station and not “Upton”, I was able to find it in the NCDC MMS metadatabase and determine that indeed it is an active station. Fortunately it is listed as NOT being part of the climate network, and neither USHCN or GISS uses this station.
From the lat/lon posted there (40.86667 -72.86667 ) I was able to locate the station on Google Earth:
It turns out that the NWS Forecasts Office happens to be on the grounds of the Brookhaven National Laboratory, and the address is at 175 Brookhaven Ave, Upton, NY.
It seems that there is ample room in the grassy area in the rear to place a weather station, rather than putting it up front in the parking lot. A Microsoft Live maps image also shows the proximity issues up front and with the building.
Of course looking at this photo, it would now seem that the rear of the building might not be the best choice either with that bank of 5 a/c units back there. But it could find a site further away to the rear or perhaps cleared more trees.
Even if this station isn’t in the climate network, it really does beg the question: why does the NWS blatantly flaunt flout their own 100 foot rule? Further, since this NWS Office is located on the grounds of the Brookhaven National Laboratory, wouldn’t you think they’d want to put their absolute best scientific foot forward?
Even is this station is only used to show school kids what a weather station looks like and how it is operated, why not do it right and show proper placement away from biases, proper door alignment on the screen, and explain why these things are important for proper measurements?
Or, maybe, these things aren’t important to the NWS at all.