Greater weather details will become available for northern Stutsman County when the newest North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network station is installed in July, according to Daryl Ritchison, director of NDAWN.
"We're still looking for a location," he said. "Looking at the northeast part of Stutsman County. Courtenay, Kensal to near Pingree area."
An NDAWN weather station is an automated weather reporting station. The equipment uses solar power and battery backup to report a long list of weather information back to the NDAWN computer servers by cellular data transmission. When completed, the station in northern Stutsman County will join more than 100 NDAWN stations in North Dakota, northeastern Montana and northwestern Minnesota.
There are existing NDAWN stations on the border of Kidder and Stutsman counties near Streeter and one 10 miles west of Jamestown. The new one fills a gap between those and the station at Carrington.
"This will between 20 and 30 miles from any existing NDAWN station," Ritchison said. "It is part of a mesonet system and we try to place stations about every 20 miles."
Many states have automated mesonet weather systems designed to observe and report conditions on a small or local scale rather than large weather systems tracked by the National Weather Service.
The new station will include weather information like temperature, wind speed and direction, humidity, barometric pressure and near-surface soil temperature. It will also include a tower with equipment to measure winds at 33 feet and 10 feet above the surface and a probe to measure soil moisture and temperature to a depth of 7 feet.
The wind speed data can be used by aerial chemical applicators to determine if conditions are correct for spraying fields while the deep soil moisture and temperature probe can be used in preparing flood forecasts and even in construction planning, Ritchison said.
Karl Hoppe, Extension livestock specialist at the Carrington Extension Research Center, said the data is most often used by farmers including cattlemen.
"We use it to identify cold weather events in the winter and rain events in the summer," he said, referring to weather data uses in livestock field trials. "Agronomists look at the growing degree days and the soil moisture."
Farmers also make use of NDAWN data to verify conditions for government programs such as the Livestock Indemnity Program.
"NDAWN can be used to document how hot and dry it is for disaster programs," Hoppe said. "It has daily and historical data."
Ritchison said the NDAWN station planned for northern Stutsman County costs between $12,000 and $15,000.
Some planned weather stations in western North Dakota are intended to help the oil industry determine when road conditions are too wet for large truck traffic in the Oil Patch. Although the word "agriculture" is in the title, the information from the weather network can be used by anyone with a need to know more about the weather.
"We're out there to save people money," Ritchison said.
Information from the NDAWN stations is available free of charge to the public but is also utilized by agencies such as the National Weather Service. Data can be viewed at www.ndawn.ndsu.nodak.edu.