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San Jose State Univ./Naval Postgraduate School: "Central California mesonet for use in LAPS and local mesoscale modeling"

Final Report


The overall objective of the project was the development of a real-time observational mesonet covering the San Francisco and Monterey Bay areas. The mesonet data was to be acquired from a motley assortment of existing networks currently operated and maintained by a variety of local, state and government agencies, and the private sector. The data was to be presented in a public format via web page access, while the NWSFO was to have direct access to the data via AWIPS. Recent archives of data were to be made available on-line, while more dated data was to be saved on storage media for later use in instructional and research applications and case studies. SJSU was responsible for the public interface, and NPS and the NWS were responsible for the AWIPS side. SJSU and NPS were both responsible for obtaining the data from the various agencies.

The broad objectives of the project were accomplished. A public website maintained by San Jose State University (SJSU) is up and running at <>. The site allows users to explore the data in a variety of ways including text and graphical formats. The user may specify the center location and the zoom level of surface plots, or may select graphical time series plots. In many ways the web site is superior to the well-known MesoWest site, because it affords the user greater freedom in exploring the data. NPS also utilizes the mesonet data to routinely produce hourly mesoscale analyses for the Monterey and San Francisco Bay regions on a public website ( The analyses on the web page are limited to surface winds but are being accessed by both NWS forecasters and public users, such as wind surfers.

The NWSFO is currently receiving most of the mesonet data via the AWIPS data feed. The mesonet observations are being feed to the NWS via a link with MesoWest and NWS Western Region. This is not ideal for rapid updating of stations and data formats that have occurred. Expertise in AWIPS at the local NWS office has developed and transition of this data feed to local ingest will be pursued in the future as this collaboration has helped foster longer term commitment to the effort. Some data feeds, such as that collected from the California Department of Water Resources, are slated to be expanded in the near future now that the data collection process has been hardened by this effort. There are a few networks currently being processed by SJSU that are not yet available in the forecast office. These can be easily included by doing three things: 1) The Naval Post Graduate School (NPS) needs to coordinate with SJSU to obtain the MASTEP network data; 2) NPS must send the additional data to MesoWest, where it is routed into the Western Region Headquarters data feed; 3) The NWSFO must update the AWIPS station table to grab the data from the data stream. SJSU and NPS are working to accomplish the first two tasks, which will require no more than an hour or so of additional work. Once the first two tasks are completed, the NWS should be able to easily update the station table.

There remain some data that we have been unable to acquire despite our best efforts. Many of these data require some effort and/or resources to be committed by external agencies. Although the necessary resources are relatively minimal, it still remains an obstacle.

Most of the benefit from the mesonet will be seen in the future. In terms of lessons learned, the data has not yet been heavily utilized. Presently, NPS uses these data to construct the mesoscale analyses and to feed its real-time runs of the MM5 model. Future research efforts involving other faculty at NPS are planned and will be greatly supported by the mesonet data. Now that the mesonet is operational, the data will be utilized both operationally and in university education and research (e.g., courses in mesoscale meteorology, and synoptic/forecasting laboratories). The system has now matured, which provides greater reliability to allow for more widespread use.


We look at this project as a first step to fostering a stronger partnership between the universities and the NWS. We hope that future collaborations revolving around the use of the mesonet data (e.g., case studies and publications) will result. During the performance period, the partners had regularly scheduled meetings to assess the state of the project. We alternated locations between NWS and SJSU. SJSU plans to deliver a hands-on web training session for the forecasters at the NWS. However, the date for this has not yet been determined for two reasons. First, the NWS is running on limited staff due to illness and the departure of personnel. Consequently, the attendance and impact of a training session would be limited. Second, SJSU personnel are not able to provide a training session until early next year due to outstanding time commitments. NPS has worked with NWS staff to expand the flow of observations both to and from NPS. NWS now provides data uniquely collected by NWS to NPS in addition to the NWS getting the mesonet data. These types of collaborations have been very beneficial to NPS in expanding our expertise in coastal meteorology and mesoscale modeling.

Although not specifically related to the COMET project, Dr. Warren Blier delivered a seminar at SJSU, which focused on high wind events along the Central California coast. The talk was very well received by faculty and students. In addition at NPS, the indirect benefit of a closer collaboration between the NWS and NPS has resulted in the initiation of a local AMS chapter for the Monterey Bay region and a NWS employee taking classes at NPS.


Leoncini, G., 2000: The Bay Area Mesonet Initiative. Presentation at Lockheed Martin/California State University Research Symposium. San Jose, CA, June 2000.

Nuss, W.A., 2000: Developing a California Mesonet. Presentation at ALERT Users Meeting, Monterey, CA, May 2000.

Nuss, W.A. 2000: Report on BAMI. Presentation at the MESOWEST meeting, Salt Lake City, Nov. 2, 2000.

Rafkin, S. C. R., 2000: The Bay Area Mesonet Initiative, Math and Science Teachers Education Program (MASTEP) Symposium. San Jose, CA, June 2000.


4.1 Benefits to the University

SJSU continues to benefit in ways that have been mentioned in previous reports. Namely, the network data is being used for instructional purposes in the meteorology courses. The data can be used to provide real world examples of mesoscale processes and dynamics. Rafkin is now developing new content for the mesoscale meteorology course that will focus on Bay Area meteorology and will heavily utilize the BAMI data. Additionally, Rafkin will be utilizing the mesonet data to conduct numerical simulations that examine the return flow associated with the sea breeze in the Monterey Bay Area. Mr. Giovanni Leoncini’s thesis topic revolves around the mesonet; he will graduate in the Spring.

NPS benefits from this project primarily through use of the data for instruction and student thesis research. The active collection and use of these data by NPS contributes to an ongoing interest by NPS faculty to improve our use of mesoscale data in forecasting and for use in models. The ability to use the mesonet data at NPS has directly contributed to the initiation of several new proposals to work with fire weather forecasters to provide high resolution data assimilation and model forecasts. Without the mesonet data, NPS would not have been in a place where these efforts could be proposed.

4.2 Benefits to the NWS Office

This project provided significant benefits to our forecast office, though a few of the specific project tasks of local mesonet development were not fully completed. Perhaps the leading project benefit from our perspective was the frequent and productive interaction it fostered between many of the staff at the Monterey (San Francisco Bay Area) WFO and the faculty, staff, and students at both NPS and SJSU. This in turn helped us in many ways, ranging from assistance from both universities with various data access issues, to their participation in and support for a number of different NWS-related projects, including PacJet and the FAA Stratus Initiative. Much progress was made on the development of a local (de facto) mesonet with regards to both of the 2 key sub-objectives: displaying mesonet data in real-time on our AWIPS system, and development of a web-based mesonet display. With respect to the former, we're now able to view AWIPS surface plots containing data from a number of sites in addition to the standard ASOS METAR reports -- and this has proven quite beneficial to our operational activities. There still remain, however, a number of additional sites to be added to the AWIPS system (including the MASTEP and APCD stations). The MASTEP stations are being collected and displayed on the public web site; NPS needs to modify their ftp script to grab the data, and NWS needs to update the AWIPS station table to grab the data from the data feed. Although significant achievement was made in development of the web-based mesonet displays for our forecast area, at their present status they don't add any particular benefit to our forecasters over simply looking at the data on AWIPS, with the exception of the additional sites available on the web site. The web interface, however, is a public interface for the university and public. A significant external impediment to progress on both parts of the project was the profound and unforeseen increase in network security issues that occurred during the project period. As real-time data transfer between SJSU, NPS, and our office lay at the heart of this project, much time ended up being spent simply trying to achieve data flow despite implementation of all of the new network security measures.