Those of us in Franklin County who are fixated on following the most up-to-date, comprehensive and complete weather report on local conditions were treated to a nice gift last month.
Tallahassee entrepreneur Edward Mansouri, chief executive officer of WeatherSTEM, and his staff donated and installed one of the company’s weather stations at the tip of the old St. George Island bridge jutting out from Eastpoint.
The unit has two high-resolution live cameras, pointed towards the island and bay, along with a wealth of solar-powered weather sensors and measuring gauges that can monitor everything from solar and UV radiation, rain rate and rainfall, temperature and humidity, wind speed and direction, and wet bulb globe temperature.
But that’s far from all that the new WeatherSTEM unit can do.
“It’s not the instruments,” said Mansouri, “It’s what do we do with the data?”
That’s where WeatherSTEM’s comprehensive weather showcasing system comes in.
In addition to gathering and storing all the sensor data, WeatherSTEM showcases it on a web portal that not only offers live viewing from each of the county’s three WeatherSTEM units, but contains a wealth of current and historical data for the area, forecasts, customizable weather notifications and alerts, lessons and activities, and more.
The new unit, offered free of charge to the emergency management office, is the third to be installed in the county. The first was installed at the Florida State University Coastal and Marine Lab some years ago, and the second has been a staple in the classroom of high school science teacher Keilan McWhorter for the last couple years.
It is difficult to describe the full gamut of what the WeatherSTEM system offers. You have to see it for yourself at https://franklin.weatherstem.com
“Weather is such a visual experience,” said Mansouri, as he worked alongside his company’s installer, Mr. Honeywell, three weeks ago on the bridge.
Next to them stood the company’s brightly painted van, but it was not how Mansouri had arrived in town. Instead, he had rode his bicycle down from Tallahassee, where he lives and works.
A graduate of the Florida State University’s engineering and meteorology programs, Mansouri, 43, began his career designing educational software for Florida Virtual School, designing a platform that he eventually sold for nearly $6 million.
After that, Mansouri’s dream was born, to blanket the state with WeatherSTEM units, to serve everything from agricultural schools to FFA (Future Farmers of America) programs, from greenhouses to gardens, and from schools to, as this most recent installation shows, the general public.
Because of their extensive on-line, integrated functions, Mansouri would like to see his WeatherSTEM units serve as the backbone of high school meteorology programs. “We think Florida should be among the most weather-literate places in the world,” he said. “An educated public is a safer public.”
Mansouri said the unit installed on the bridge is the “Cadillac of low-end stuff,” meaning that it is top of the line for units that sell for $1,000 or less. He said that measurements are exact, and figured down to minute units. “It’s accurate enough, and it’s durable enough,” he said.
Mansouri said the new weather station is only WeatherSTEM’s second to be both entirely powered by solar, and entirely dependent on cellular transfer of data. “We have one of the world’s most connected weather stations,” he said.
As it stands now, WeatherSTEM has stations blanketing Florida all the way from the Keys to Pensacola, and is adding them every week.
People can also get a free WeatherSTEM iPhone or Android app for live weather info and customized notifications, and can follow on Twitter @SGIBridgeWx or vist Facebook at St. George Island Bridge Weatherstem.
You can also call or text (850) 745-2246, and be sure to put in “sgibridge.” Or email firstname.lastname@example.org