Weather station hits the road - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Weather station hits the road

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Posted: Thursday, October 13, 2005 10:47 am | Updated: 7:43 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Matthew Pace doesn’t seem to notice his love of contradictions. He mounted cutting-edge technology on his fully restored 1969 Volkswagen bus. He loves rushing water — and the desert. But he knows how to make it work for him, and for Gold Canyon.

Pace, a lifelong Gold Canyon resident and 19-year-old college student, recently launched a Web site tailored to forecast Gold Canyon weather.

Before was launched in April, the closest forecasts were targeted toward areas 30 to 40 miles away, he said.

"And weather is constantly changing. I really thought the area could use a site,’’ Pace said.

The Web site gets its name from the Volkswagen bus housing his mobile weather station, and now nets about 200 different visitors daily, Pace said.

He said many log on to check forecasts and rainfall totals, but the site also measures wind speeds, gusts, humidity and dew point. It also gives current readings as well as highs and lows for barometric pressure, the heat index, wind chill and rain rates. The figures are updated every five minutes.

A cursory look at the site not only warns of coming storms, but can tell the weather-savvy viewer if storms are likely to approach soon.

A recent and popular addition to the site, Pace said, is data from a lightning detector, which shows the rate of lightning strikes within a 300-mile radius.

Pace said he spends "quite a bit of time weather chasing,’’ and gathers information from three weather stations he bought and assembled himself — two on his house in the foothills of the Superstition Mountains, and the mobile station on his bus.

In addition to personal research, he shares information with the National Weather Service in Phoenix and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Pace also maintains a weather station at Mesa Community College, and has worked with students to start a weather club at Desert Vista Elementary School in Apache Junction.

"It went really well. We would discuss different weather phenomena and do hands-on activities,’’ Pace said. The students were the same age as Pace when he was first enchanted by climatology, he said.

"Something really hit me right around the fifth grade, and I got into weather,’’ he said.

"Monsoons are the neatest, especially in Arizona. That’s my favorite time of the year.’’

Since his first encounter with the weather bug, Pace has pursued Arizona weather and shared it with others. He has had a weather station in some form since 2001.

Pace is transferring from MCC to Arizona State University’s climatology program, and plans to pursue a doctorate and work with the National Weather Service, or pursue his own research on monsoons.

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