New mesonet station for Matador to help warn residents of severe storms

Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 6:22 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The National Weather Service now has another tool to help it issue weather warnings for the town of Matador.

This comes three months after the deadly tornado and closes what the National Weather Service calls a gap in data.

The 154th West Texas Mesonet station went up on the Matador Ranch Wednesday. The more than 30-foot tower will be used measure things like temperature, wind and rainfall. The operations manager for West Texas Mesonet, Wes Burgett, said it will help warn residents to get to safety five minutes before a storm hits Matador.

“The biggest thing we provide is wind warnings, with the high winds approaching,” Burgett said. “If a storm is coming from say Floydada it would warn them before it got to the town.”

The Assistant Fire Chief President in Matador, Craig Turner, said it will also help them keep everyone safe.

“It will really help in our fire activities, things like that, because the winds and the humidity and all of that is so important as we are battling wildfires,” Turner said.

It’s also closing a gap in data for the weather service.

“We did kind of have a hole with weather data with Matador because we have the Roaring Springs mesonet, and then the next one would [be] Northfield, and then Turkey to the north,” Charles Aldrich with the National Weather Service said. “So, this kind of fills in that hole.”

Aldrich said these mesonet stations are used to track severe storms and help with everyday forecasting.

“We use these on a day-to-day basis,” Aldrich said. “They’re very important to us at the weather service in Lubbock.”

Aldrich said the Matador tornado came up fast and had wind speeds from 145 to 165 mph. If there was a mesonet station closer to Matador, he said it could have been useful in warning the residents.

“This station could’ve gave us a good idea of the inflow wind going into the storm, and when that kicks up, it can be a good indicator of, especially a strong tornado,” Aldrich said.

West Texas Mesonet knows the stations work because they helped warn citizens that same storm from June was coming after it left Matador.

“The storm actually kept going all the way to Abilene, and it ended up hitting about five of our stations,” Burgett said. “So, each one of the times it got closer to the station it provided warnings.”

WR Collier owns the Matador Ranch and helped pay for the mesonet station to be installed on his property. He said he wanted to better know the weather in his area, like how much rainfall he was getting.

“The amount of accumulative rainfall you have during the year is so important on stocking of cattle and utilization of the ranch,” Collier said.

West Texas Mesonet will gather data every five minutes from this station, beginning as early as Wednesday night.