NOAA 2002-110
Contact: Ron Trumbla
8 /27/02
NOAA News Releases 2002
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The newest wind profiler system of the Forecast Systems Laboratory (FSL) of the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is now scanning the skies near Austin, Texas. Located on a site provided by the Austin-based Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), the new wind profiler is the 35th system in the NOAA Profiler Network.

The wind profiler system is a valuable supplement to NOAA’s National Weather Service’s (NOAA Weather Service) upper air (weather balloon) program. “Atmospheric data from weather balloons is a major source of information used to generate weather forecasts and warnings, but we usually only take balloon soundings twice a day,” said Bill Proenza, NOAA Weather Service southern region director. “Our forecasters need to know what is happening with the winds aloft on an hourly basis – especially when they are faced with rapidly changing atmospheric conditions such as during severe weather – and that information is what the wind profiler system brings in.”

Using long wavelength radar, wind profilers are specifically designed to measure vertical and horizontal wind speed and direction from the Earth’s surface up to a height of 53,000 feet. The radars detect changes in the density of air with different temperature and moisture content. These density changes are used to track wind data. Requiring minimal attention and maintenance, wind profilers provide a constant stream of data in all kinds of weather conditions.

The 10-year-old network has become an important source of wind speed and direction data for the NOAA Weather Service network of Weather Forecast Offices, its National Centers for Environmental Prediction and Storm Prediction Center, the university research community and private sector meteorologists.

Located on the LCRA’s Cooper Farm Resource Area near Ledbetter, Texas, the new profiler is a partnership between NOAA, LCRA and Texas A&M University. The site also provides important information on temperature, moisture and soil temperature.

“Our office, working with NOAA Weather Service southern region headquarters, will be providing Texas with the first component of a testbed for advanced atmospheric observations leading to improved forecasts for the state,” said Margot Ackley, director, Profiler Program Office, NOAA Forecast Systems Laboratory.

The Ledbetter profiler is part of a 35 station network that provides the nation with critical information in support of weather forecasting, aviation and monitoring our climate and air quality. The data are also used by Texas A&M for research and education.

Cooper Farm promotes natural resource conservation among Central Texans through education programs and activities. It is one of six environmental learning centers in the lower Colorado River basin that support the LCRA’s mission of protecting the basin’s water resources through environmental stewardship.

“LCRA is pleased to play a key role in extending NOAA’s wind profiler network,” said LCRA General Manager Joe Beal. “Severe weather can affect, if not harm, many lives in Central Texas, and experience has taught us that we need as much updated information as possible to be aware of changing weather conditions. The new wind profiler will benefit everyone in our river basin.”

Beal noted the longstanding relationship between LCRA and NOAA Weather Service. “We have partnered to extend NOAA Weather radio coverage throughout our basin so that no one in the region needs to be at risk for missing severe weather information.”

A division of NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (NOAA Research), the FSL’s primary objectives are to demonstrate new technologies developed by NOAA Research and other agencies and transfer them into the operational domain.

NOAA's National Weather Service (NOAA Weather Service) is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. NOAA Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy. To learn more about NOAA Weather Serivce, please visit For additional information, visit or