Sunday, October 27, 2013

Watching the water, thanks to NOAA/GLERL

The view from the Harrison-Dever crib this morning.
We always check our favorite Lake Michigan meteorological observation station -- the thermometer, anemometer and webcam located atop Chicago's Harrison-Dever crib two-and-a-half nautical miles offshore. This NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory station, with its unimpeded view, is the best source of accurate wind data for the Chicago shoreline.

Sample data from the Harrison-Dever crib. 
We've never had much use for the webcam, however, which is too far above the water to provide any sense of wave height.

Until now. This morning, when we checked the site, we discovered a new feature: A six-hour time-lapse of webcam images, taken every 10 minutes. They still flatten out the waves, but you can see boats go by, watch the light change, and admire reflections on the skyscrapers in the background. It's really quite beautiful.

NOAA has added the same feature to other area webcams. You can now watch the waves at Muskegon, South Haven or Michigan City, or the clouds over Alpena. (Um, guys, can you adjust the camera angle?)

Seriously, we're fortunate to have this service. The Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory has been instrumental in researching algae blooms and invasive species, collecting and forecasting water levels, and providing coastal forecasts and satellite images, among other environmental research activities.

A portion of the Great Lakes Water Level Observations.

We rely on the data from the crib for an accurate sense of wind speed and direction. We also check it after we paddle to help us calibrate our internal anemometers. Thanks, GLERL. Another great service of the federal government!

The Harrison-Dever crib.

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