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August 6, 2003

Purdue celebrates 50th anniversary of weather observation facility

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – On Aug. 21 Purdue University will celebrate 50 years of weather observation at the Agronomy Center for Research and Education (ACRE).

The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place at the center, located at 4540 U.S. 52 W., northwest of Purdue's campus. Visitors can tour the facility at 1 p.m. and learn about both common and unique equipment used in weather observations. The National Weather Service will commemorate the center's 50 years of service during a 2 p.m. ceremony.

Purdue will be given the length of service Institutional Award for 50 years of continuous weather observation at ACRE. Prior to July 1953, data was collected on Purdue's West Lafayette campus.

Victor Lechtenberg, dean of Purdue's School of Agriculture, will welcome visitors and describe Purdue's involvement with weather data collection.

A National Weather Service representative talk about the cooperative weather observer program in Indiana and the United States. In the program, volunteers gather weather data with NWS certified instruments and instruction. This data is submitted to the National Climatic Data Center for processing and is archived in the official United States climate record.

Purdue started ACRE, which shares its collected data with private, public and governmental sectors.

State climatologist Ken Scheeringa, said that while most people care about the weather, government agencies depend on the information for documentation. For example, after heavy rains and floods caused damage in the Midwest, local weather data was in demand.

"My Web site traffic went up 50 percent in July, and the added traffic was largely government agencies wanting hard facts," he said.

To get this weather information, data is collected at ACRE and more than 100 other locations across the state.

"This data keeps getting used again and again," Scheeringa said. "The cooperative program is probably one of the most cost effective services our government provides for the benefits received."

Many businesses benefit from past catalogued information, including insurance companies, utilities, farmers, attorneys and police.

Jim Beaty, superintendent of ACRE, uses the information when he wants to know exact numbers.

"It quantifies the weather for you," Beaty said. "A degree of two is a big difference when it is near-freezing temperatures."

Writer: Michelle Betz, (765) 494-8402, agnews-stories@purdue.edu

Sources: Ken Scheeringa, (765) 494-8105, kens@purdue.edu

Jim Beaty, (765) 463-2632, jbeaty@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722; Beth Forbes, bforbes@aes.purdue.edu; http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/AgComm/public/agnews/


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