Weather website on campus

by | Mar 19, 2015 | Featured, Uncategorized

NAIT students! NAIT now has a new weather website offering you the latest in current weather observations across campus.

The Alternative Energy Technology program has launched this website to benefit the learning needs of the students in this program. It is also a great tool for any NAIT student to keep up-to-date on the weather on campus. The weather stations are located on different roofs around the institution.

As you know, the weather is constantly changing, can be unpredictable and is of significant importance to our city. The weather plays a huge role in what we choose to wear out the door each morning, on the way to school or work. The new website will offer current weather data on temperature, dewpoint, humidex, pressure, solar intensity, humidity, wind chill, wind speed and the wind direction. You may be wondering what some of these terms mean exactly. The temperature is, of course, the temperature observed on the top of the roof at these NAIT weather stations.

The dewpoint is a measure of how moist the air is. The higher the dewpoint, the more moist the air is. We often look to high dewpoints for the development of severe thunderstorms during the summer because more moisture acts as fuel for storm development. The closer the dewpoint is to the temperature, the closer the air is to saturation. Saturation occurs when the temperature and the dewpoint meet and the relative humidity nears 100 per cent. This means fog development because the air is saturated at the boundary layer. The humidex is mostly of significance during the summer. The humidex is also known as the “feels like” temperature.

The humidex does not use a degree sign because it is not an actual temperature. The humidex takes the dewpoint (moisture) and temperature. A high humidex can be found on a hot and sticky summer day! Pressure is also known as the barometer. It measures the atmospheric pressure. Low pressure systems bring lower pressure and high pressure systems bring higher pressure values on the barometer. When we see an Arctic high move down for example, the pressure rises. When a low pressure system approaches, we see the barometer value drop. We also look at pressure to determine the location of warm fronts and cold fronts. For example, pressure in behind a cold front will gradually rise as the high pressure system moves in from in behind.

Relative humidity shows how moist the air is. Generally, the dewpoint is a better indicator of moisture than the humidity value. Humidity is expressed in a percentage value with a lower value indicating drier air. The wind chill is a value when you take the temperature and the wind speed. The wind chill is mostly used during the cold months. The wind chill will take the actual temperature with the wind speed to give a unitless value of what it “feels like” outside. A higher wind speed will make it feel colder to the average person. Cars, buildings and objects cannot feel a wind chill, but we as humans can. A wind chill below minus 40 can create frostbite on exposed skin within a few minutes. The wind speed is stated in the direction the wind is coming from. A southeast (SE) wind for example means that the wind is coming out of the southeast. A northerly wind is 0 degrees, an easterly wind is 90 degrees, a southerly wind is 180 degrees and a westerly wind is 270 degrees.

Generally, a northwesterly wind comes in from in behind a cold front and a southwesterly wind is in behind a warm front in what we call the “warm sector” of the low. Southeasterly winds come out of the high pressure system in a clockwise manner in advance of an approaching low or warm front. Easterly winds tend to keep our temperature steady. They rush out of the high pressure system. Northeasterly winds are on the backside of a low rushing out of the Arctic high and bring in cooler air. Westerly winds can help to clear the sky out for us.

Brandon Hess

Meteorologist in Training

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