May 20, 2012 - By Joshua Scheer, Staff WriterEquipment will assist in determining impact of winds on snowmelt, runoff
The National Weather Service in Riverton, with the help of several other agencies, has installed a weather monitoring station in Sinks Canyon near Lander.
Hydrologist Jim Fahey spearheaded the project.
The monitoring equipment was installed during a two-week period and was up and running on May 10. The station is located on U.S. Forest Service property behind the agency's service building near the back of the canyon on the northern side.
He looked at several locations within the canyon but decided this would be the safest for the equipment.
"I wanted something ... looking mainly at wind data," Fahey said.
The station can monitor wind speeds and gusts, which he said will help determine the impact of Chinook winds on snow melt and runoff.
Additionally, Fahey said area firefighters will utilize the data to determine fire danger.
In November, he sent requests for help in funding the more than $6,000 project to 24 entities.
Fahey said the City of Lander pitched in almost $2,000; the Forest Service gave $1,500; the University of Wyoming gave $2,000; and Sinks Canyon State Park gave $500.
The NWS provided about another $2,000 of equipment.
"We'll be the primary maintainers," Fahey said.
He added he will train a few state park employees on how to troubleshoot with the equipment in case of any problems.
A soil moisture probe and solar radiation detector are two pieces of the puzzle Fahey said would be beneficial. Together that equipment would cost another $2,000.
Utilizing the data supplied by the new station is something everyone can do, not just professionals.
Data is being transmitted to mesowest.utah.edu. On the homepage, the "Region" dropdown menu should be set to "Wyoming" and the "Product" dropdown menu to "Current Weather Summary." Click "Go."
On the following page, change the "Settings" to "All Networks," and click "Update Network/Region Settings." Scroll down to find Fremont County and the link for the Sinks Canyon page.
Fahey said the information could be useful for people who are planning on recreating in the canyon.
"The weather can be drastically different, especially the wind," he said of canyon versus in Lander.
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