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Here’s why New Mexico is expanding its weather monitoring system

LAS CRUCES – New Mexico’s ZiaMet MesoNet weather monitoring network will grow significantly over the next year, as $1.8 million in federal funds was recently allocated for the effort.

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) was in Las Cruces on Thursday at the Fabian Garcia Research Center following his support for the Fiscal Year 2022 Omnibus Appropriations Agreement that earmarked more than $2 million in federal funding for southern New Mexico weather monitoring and public safety.

The state weather monitoring network is based in Las Cruces at New Mexico State University. State climatologist David DuBois explained that there are currently 31 weather stations operating across the state, but that bypasses several counties and large parts of more rural areas of the state.

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The stations monitor surface weather and subsurface ground conditions. Data is collected and used to understand patterns and predict future climate figures. Data is displayed online at https://weather.nmsu.edu/ and is updated hourly.

This data is useful for agricultural industry players, emergency responders and managers as well as ordinary people who may be exposed to health risks when not properly informed of changing weather conditions. The data will also help make better firefighting decisions in the event of wildfires in the state.

Another 66 stations are expected to be installed and operational by July 1, funded by more than $940,000 in government funds allocated through legislation passed in early 2022. With the additional federal funding, the network is expected to consist of 215 total weather stations statewide by July 1. , 2023.

New Mexico State climatologist Dr. Dave Dubois discusses data collected through the ZiaMet MesoNet weather monitoring network.  U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (DN.M.) at the Fabian Garcia Research Center Thursday, June 2, 2022.

DuBois mentioned that average temperatures for the Las Cruces area have steadily increased by about 3 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 50 years. As climate change continues to influence weather events, Heinrich said it’s important to make decisions based on quality data.

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“We have a very large state with a diffuse network of existing weather stations, and investing in this program is helping fill the gaps,” Heinrich said. “If you have an extreme thunderstorm or other extreme weather event, being able to document that can be the difference between being able to get insurance to cover a loss or not being able to cover a loss. So if somebody loses their roof due to an extreme wind or extreme rainfall event, if we have that data, that means somebody can actually get insurance to cover their losses and that means that insurance companies can correctly assess the risk.

Not only will the new stations fill in the gaps in remote areas, but also in large cities like Albuquerque or Las Cruces, where there are temperature differences depending on which area of ​​town you are in.

Heinrich mentioned that Oklahoma is a state that New Mexico is considering as a model because of its similar rural environment and its investment in a more robust weather data network.

Leah Romero is the Trending Reporter for the Las Cruces Sun-News and can be reached at 575-418-3442, [email protected] or @rromero_leah on Twitter.

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