LUBBOCK, Texas — Texas Tech University’s West Texas Mesonet, which is part of the National Wind Institute, installed a 33-foot-tall weather tower at the historic Matador Ranch on Wednesday morning. They said the tower should begin collecting weather data by Wednesday night or Thursday morning.
This development began after an EF3 tornado tore through Matador in June, devastating the town. The tornado killed four people, hurt fifteen people and destroyed houses and businesses.
“That type of devastation takes a while to build back from,” Charles Aldrich, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service said.
The town is still recovering from the devastation along with the help of other Texas communities. Part of this recovery effort is the new mesonet tower, which will warn Matador of severe weather storms ahead of time so they can prepare.
According to Aldrich, every second counts.
“The quicker we can get that warning out … the faster people can get to safety,” Aldrich said.
The station will track things like wind power, temperature and rainfall. With the tower stationed only four miles away from the town, it would be able to send data to the National Weather Service to warn people of severe weather approaching, like a tornado or wildfire.
This would give someone a few extra minutes to find safety or take cover. Before the tower, Wes Burgett, the operations manager for West Texas Mesonet at Texas Tech, said people in Matador sometimes had to rely on word of mouth.
“There are very few people here when you get west of Matador so having that additional data point is extremely valuable to them,” Burgett said.
Burgett said the data from the tower can be found through an app or online. This is especially helpful for ranchers like W.R. Collier, who is hosting the tower on his land. He will be able to look at the data to see things like how much precipitation his land is getting or what the temperature of his soil is.
“I think it’s a great location,” Collier said.
Collier said it’s important for him to know how much rain his land gets so he can act accordingly.
“We look forward to [the tower] being up. When it rains, which I hope it does, all of us will be able to determine what kind of rainfall it was.”
Aldrich hopes a closely stationed weather monitor can bring some peace of mind to the people in Matador.