Merritt’s Economic Development Department is predicting ‘nothing but blue skies’ for the city, now that a newly installed auto weather station has put Merritt on the map.
City officials joined Environment Canada representatives on Tuesday to officially launch the weather station that will provide hourly weather updates as well as weather warnings and forecasts for the Merritt area.
“It’s really exciting to have a weather station that will put Merritt on the map,” said Fraser Nicola MLA Harry Lali on site Tuesday. “When people are watching TV they will see Merritt and it will be good for our tourism.”
Mayor Susan Roline also expressed her excitement and thanked Economic Development Officer Deanne Parise and her team for pursuing the idea.
Though the City of Merritt has a long history of measuring the weather, and its daily climate station has enabled Environment Canada to collect daily climate records as far back as 1918, the region lacked an accurate hourly update and so when the opportunity arose, Parise and her department worked with Environment Canada to develop a partnership.
Environment Canada special project supervisor Drew Pawley explained that while Environment Canada has not been expanding its network of automated systems, the Merritt station will operate as a low cost cooperative pilot project, with the city funding the power and the communications and Environment Canada providing and maintaining the equipment.
“We’re trying to get more community involvement and we’re glad to be able to put the equipment in and put it to use,” Pawley said. “This auto station will measure wind direction and speed, temperature, humidity and rainfall.”
Although Parise outlined benefits to the City of Merritt including increased access to information for residents as well as added exposure with the media, meteorologist Doug Lundquist indicated that the new weather station would benefit meteorologists as well.
“We always knew there was a gap in this region, so this is very exciting for us,” said Lundquist. “Now we’ll be able to take the information and improve on the forecasting that’s done, so this doesn’t just help you – it helps us.”
Located in the field next to the new Kengard Well, the station’s location was chosen to give a true picture of Merritt’s weather.
“Because of the grass you’ll get an accurate temperature that is not affected by concrete or other manmade heat sources,” explained Pawley.
The weather station, which has been operational for about three weeks, provides hourly updates that will be aired on various TV networks. Residents and others can also access weather conditions at weatheroffice.gc.ca.