Station provides flood warning and road weather data

Campbell Scientific Aust Pty Ltd
Monday, 13 August, 2012

Networks using the ALERT protocol are designed to give immediate access to data that indicates the likelihood of flood conditions. ALERT stations are typically set up to acquire and transmit hydrological and meteorological data on a timed and event basis. Campbell Scientific data loggers that are used to run ALERT stations have plenty of capability to spare, and that capability can be leveraged to perform a variety of services.

Douglas County, Colorado, in conjunction with Denver’s Urban Drainage Flood Control District (UDFCD), operates an extensive ALERT network to monitor potential flood conditions. In 2008, the county decided that the next ALERT site they set up should also have a camera to monitor stream and road conditions, and a road-temperature sensor to aid the Public Works department with winter maintenance. This would give the station the abilities of a road-weather information system (RWIS).

To accomplish this task, Water & Earth Technologies of Fort Collins, Colorado, worked with Campbell Scientific to design and build the new site as a multipurpose system. The new system has a variety of features:

  • The immediacy of an ALERT station
  • Real-time and historical weather data for meteorologists
  • A cellular router for remote data access and transmission to Weather Underground (WU)
  • A camera to send images to WU and to the Public Works department

The Campbell Scientific CR1000 Measurement and Control Data Logger at the heart of the ALERT station was programmed to instruct the RF500M radio modem to transmit precipitation, water level, wind speed and gust, wind direction and battery voltage to the UDFCD base station in Denver using the ALERT protocol.

In addition to this normal flood-warning role, the logger acts as a web server, using cellular communications to provide other users with near-real-time images of the stream, along with the same type of data sent to the ALERT network, and temperatures for water, air and road surface. A staff gauge was painted on one of the bridge piers to be visible by the camera, and this can be used to verify the performance of the water-level sensors. The product is also configured to use its internet communication abilities to send current data and camera images to the Weather Underground website.

The weather station has no access to AC power, but is able to rely solely on solar power. The programmability of the logger has enabled use of power-saving techniques such as turning off the camera at night and powering down sensors when they are not needed.

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