Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer
The Macon County Public Library and Jackson County-based business Local Yokel Weather teamed up to install a weather station on the library campus last week. The station will provide real-time data for the public.
“We just got our weather station installed yesterday, so we’re excited but we’re still in a learning phase,” said Fontana Regional Library Director Karen Wallace. “Preston Jacobsen from Local Yokel has been so supportive – he even installed the pole to mount the station on. We used funds from a grant called Rural Gateways, the purpose of which is to introduce and involve more adults in STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics] related activities. We’ve been doing some Citizen Science programs over the past couple of years and this helps us build on those efforts.”
Jacobsen, who owns and operates Local Yokel Weather which provides local forecasts, observations, and storm coverage, said he was happy to assist the library in the project.
“The library reached out to us to see if we were interested in installing a weather station at their location and also for some guidance as to which station to purchase,” said Jacobsen. “We asked if we could use the data on our website and they had no problem letting us do so, but to keep the relationship symbiotic I offered to put on weather programming whenever they would like. We have done weather programs in the past for Rotary Clubs and locally here at the Jackson County Library in Sylva and we cherish the connections made with individuals at these events. We always strive to make the topic of weather as fascinating as possible and it’s truly a delight when those who live here realize how rare, unique and at times, extreme our weather can be in Southwest North Carolina.”
Jacobsen noted that public access to weather data in and around Franklin is widely available, but it isn’t always easy to find.
“It typically takes hours of searching to find an online station with reliable data and this tends to be a roadblock for the general public,” said Jacobsen. “This is in some ways why we started Local Yokel Weather back in 2007, to bring data to the public’s fingertips but we are no ways a pioneer in this space and often promote new stations or avenues to obtain archived or current data.”
Locally, the library will be able to provide current conditions to the public and Southwestern Community College students, use the data for science experiments on site, possible tie-ins to future weather research as a partner to larger studies put on by UNCA, NASA, etc.
“Since the weather impacts us all and everything we do in life, there really is no limit to the applications this station data provides,” said Jacobsen. “It was a pleasure working with their team and the excitement they have by gaining access to local weather conditions is contagious, really fun to work with them. I look forward to putting on a snow event in the winter months using our snowmaking equipment and can only imagine how excited they’ll be once that comes to fruition.”
The weather station is already on the Local Yokel weather map and the Weatherlink map and the library plans to add the station to their website this week.
The first program hosted by the library that will incorporate the weather station is scheduled for June 16. The Revisioning Recovering Films and Discussion Panel event features a collection of five short films that tell environmental disaster recovery stories and examine historical inequities that worsen when disasters hit.
The event is presented by: Macon County Public Library, The Smoky Mountains STEM Collaborative, North Carolina Humanities, and Working Films.
This event will include a live viewing of the films and an interactive panel discussion featuring leaders working toward climate and environmental justice. Featured panelists include Rob Young (Director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University), Erin McCully (Western NC Citizens’ Climate Lobby), and Jason Meador (Aquatic Programs Manager at Mainspring Conservation Trust). Attendees joining online will be able to watch the panel discussion and ask questions through Zoom.