Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Installing new weather stations to support viticulture in northern New Mexico

On September 26th 2014, two members of the NM Climate Center Team travelled north from Las Cruces to perform maintenance on three weather stations and install a new station.  The maintenance was performed at Ponderosa Valley Vineyard, Corrales Winery, and Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center. The new station was installed at the Estrella del Norte vineyard.

Locations of weather stations. Image from Google Earth.

In cooperation with the New Mexico Climate Center, the NMSU viticulture program is installing weather stations at vineyards across New Mexico.  A Davis Weather Station was installed at the Estrella Del Norte secondary vineyard.  According to Elizabeth Smith, the secondary location was chosen because it is in a topographically challenging area and also is away from the main tourist location.  The owners wished this location to be monitored due to its increased chance of experiencing freezes. Installing the physical station and computer system took approximately 1.5 hours and was maintaining network contact at the time of leaving.

Weather station at Estrella del Norte vineyard. Photo by: Elizabeth Smith

Weather station at Estrella del Norte vineyard. Photo by: Elizabeth Smith

Weather station at Estrella del Norte vineyard. Photo by: Elizabeth Smith

Weather station at Estrella del Norte vineyard. Photo by: Elizabeth Smith

The second location they visited was Ponderosa Valley Vineyard.  The stop was necessitated by poor response from the computer system, so a new computer with updated software was installed. The data stored on the old computer will be sent to the vineyard at a later date.  Communication to the network was working when we left.
The third location, Corrales winery, needed an updated computer as well. Communication to the network was working and stable when leaving.  The Corrales location worked for approximately 7.5 hours before a network error occurred. At Elizabeth's request, the winery re-booted the computer and monitoring resumed within 3 hours.
The last location they went was Los Lunas Agricultural Center. The weather station in this location was failing to record accurate air/soil temperature data.  They also noticed that the station was reporting very low battery voltages.  Therefore, they decided that the problems could be one or all of the following:

1.  A bad battery,
2.  A bad charge controller,
3.  A bad solar panel, or
4.  Bad air/soil temperature sensors.

Once they arrived, Stanley Engle opened the battery box and immediately noticed that the battery terminals were very corroded.  Further, the water level in the battery was very low.  The voltage was 12.5 volts and datalogger was also reporting 12.5 volts.  He covered the solar panel with a black trash bag and recorded 3 volts from the solar panel.  The voltage reported by the datalogger slowly began to fall until it stabilized around 8 volts.  During this time, the datalogger was also showing bad data from the air/soil temperature sensors. Stan uncovered the solar panel and replaced the battery with a new 12v deep cycle marine battery.  He repeated the process of covering the solar panel, however, this time, the datalogger reported voltage of 12.5 volts.  The air/soil temperature reading were also holding steady at reasonable levels.  Uncovering the solar panel also yielded steady 12.5 volts reported by the datalogger and manually measured at the charge controller.  From this process, they concluded that the only issue we had to deal with was the bad battery.  Since then, the voltage and air/soil temperature readings have all been reasonable.

Battery at Los Lunas Agricultural Center. Photo by: Stanley Engle

Finally, the Los Lunas office/weather station Campbell Scientific RF 401 radios were replaced with Campbell Scientific RF 416 radios.  The RF416 radios operate in the 2.4 GHz frequency and are lower transmitting power radios.  Since the Los Lunas weather station is so close to the office, we didn't need higher transmitting power radios.  The RF 401 radios are now available to be used at other locations.

Weather station at Los Lunas Agricultural Center. Photo by: Stanley Engle

Friday, October 3, 2014

Turn Around Don’t Drown

The NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) has been promoting "Turn Around Don't Drown" signs around the US. This is a campaign to warn people of the hazards of crossing through a flood. The NWS mission is to help protect life and property.  The NM Department of Transportation is planning on installing more of these signs across NM and the NM Climate Center team is planning on helping find potential sites where they are critically needed.

Take a look at this information provided by NOAA National Weather Service:

What Is Turn Around Don't Drown® (TADD)?

TADD is a NOAA National Weather Service campaign to warn people of the hazards of walking or driving a vehicle through flood waters.

Why is Turn Around Don't Drown® So Important?

Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other severe weather related hazard. The Centers for Disease Control report that over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths is due to walking into or near flood waters. Why? The main reason is people underestimate the force and power of water. Many of the deaths occur in automobiles as they are swept downstream. Many of these drownings are preventable, but too many people continue to drive around the barriers that warn you the road is flooded.


What Can I Do to Avoid Getting Caught is This Situation?

Most flood-related deaths and injuries could be avoided if people who come upon areas covered with water followed this simple advice: Turn Around Don't Drown®.

The reason that so many people drown during flooding is because few of them realize the incredible power of water. A mere six inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. It takes only two feet of rushing water to carry away most vehicles. This includes pickups and SUVs.

If you come to an area that is covered with water, you will not know the depth of the water or the condition of the ground under the water. This is especially true at night, when your vision is more limited.

Play it smart, play it safe. Whether driving or walking, any time you come to a flooded road, Turn Around Don't Drown®

Follow these safety rules:

  • Monitor the NOAA Weather Radio, or your favorite news source for vital weather related information.
  • If flooding occurs, get to higher ground. Get out of areas subject to flooding. This includes dips, low spots, canyons, washes etc.
  • Avoid areas already flooded, especially if the water is flowing fast. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams. Turn Around Don't Drown®
  • Road beds may be washed out under flood waters. NEVER drive through flooded roadways. Turn Around Don't Drown®
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly during threatening conditions.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.

TADD Brochure:

For more information, access:
-Cristina González