We all benefit and use Mesonet data, the state needs to help fund the program

Caitlyn French

After 10 years of operations, one might think a program would be protected, especially if the program provided valuable information for a wide range of people. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case.

The Kentucky Mesonet has been providing additional meteorological data to the south-central Kentucky area since 2007 and currently has 69 stations across the state. According to Governor Matt Bevin’s proposed budget, our Mesonet would no longer receive state funding at the end of the current fiscal year.

Some of you reading this may think this is not a big deal, but I want to tell you why this is a big deal.

The Mesonet, as previously stated, provides weather data (such as temperature, humidity, precipitation and wind direction and speed) for most of the state of Kentucky. In many locations in the Commonwealth, the Mesonet is the only source of professional collection of data.

As one might imagine, or maybe you have not thought about it, scientific grade weather instruments are not cheap, and neither is maintaining them. There is also an entire team of people that have to be paid to run the whole organization.

As the Mesonet provides this weather information (along with innovative products and some educational outreach) free to the public, the funding to do this has to come from somewhere.

Many may think that the state should not be the source for the funding, but consider this: you use this information as well. News agencies, such as WBKO and WNKY, use the Mesonet’s information and maps to give viewers current weather information.

You use this information to dress day-by-day and make your outdoor plans. If the state didn’t provide the funding for this, who would? Can you imagine paying a subscription for something as menial as seeing the air temperature where you plan to go for a hike? The Mesonet provides that information and much more to communities across the state.

As this budget is considered, I urge you to contact Bevin and your representatives to remind them of all the uses of the Kentucky Mesonet: from the current weather information we all use to the compiled data used in research, we all need this organization.

Caitlyn French is a senior meteorology major