Holton residents who search
the internet to find out what the
weather is like in their home town
have had few close-to-home options for weather updates.
"You always get observations from Delia or Topeka or, if you're lucky, you'll get a station that's out on the Potawatomi reservation, which is a little closer but still miles away," said Zach Elliott, a 2009 Holton High School alumnus who recently graduated from the University of Oklahoma School of Meteorology with a bachelor of science degree.
But through the efforts of Elliott and supporters of Banner Creek Science Center, that's about to change. During a Monday evening program at the science center, Elliott dedicated a new weather station that accurately records several local weather conditions, including temperatures, wind speeds and rainfall, and is accessible through a Web site: www. holtonksweather.com that is currently up and running.
"It measures a little bit of everything," Elliott said.
During his studies at the University of Oklahoma, Elliott decided to "take some of what I've learned and apply it toward giving back to the community," and the placement of a weather station in Holton seemed to him the perfect opportunity to do just that. He teamed up with the science center to raise funds for an outdoor weather station, setting a $1,000 goal for the purchase of a station.
With help from science center supporters and some of his friends in the meteorological community, Elliott had no trouble exceeding that goal.
"Most of the donations came from folks here in Jackson County," he said. "It only took me a month or two to raise a little more than $1,000."
The solar-powered weather station, installed in the science center's "front yard," is a fan-aspirated unit that evenly distributes measured air to get a more accurate temperature reading, Elliott said. It also measures humidity, barometric pressure, precipitation, wind direction and speed and ultraviolet radiation measurements to provide locals with the day's "UV index."
For the present time, however, the Web site only keeps track of current weather data, although Elliott said he is still working with the station's software to enable weekly and monthly archives of high and low temperatures, maximum wind speeds and precipitation measurements. The site also offers regional radar readings and a weather forecast for the Holton area.
The Web site also will offer an outdoor view from the science center out toward Banner Creek Reservoir via a webcam that was purchased with money left over from fund-raising for the science center, Elliott said.
In addition to the weather station's dedication, Elliott gave those present at the science center on Monday a talk about general weather safety and things he's learned during his meteorological education on "what people are doing wrong when it comes to severe weather." Common "myths and misconceptions" about severe weather also were part of his presentation.
Currently, Elliott is working for Weather Decision Technologies in Norman, Okla., a weather content provider that builds mobile applications and interactive solutions for media clients. He expressed a desire to continue working there, possibly getting into the field of information technology.
"That's my plan for at least the immediate future," he said. "Down the road, I'm still not 100 percent sure yet. I'm still in that ‘early college kid' phase and not really knowing exactly what I want to do with my life quite yet."
Elliott noted that becoming a television meteorologist or a full-time storm chaser does not fit into his future plans, however. "Broadcast is not in my future," he said. "Neither is the National Weather Service. You have your exciting days with that, but most of the time it's really boring. I can't see myself doing any storm-chasing. I wish I could have that as a career, but it doesn't really pay. It costs more money than you'll ever make with it. It's strictly a hobby."
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