The Florida Automated Weather Network (FAWN) was established in 1998 in response to the discontinuation of the National Weather Service (NWS) agricultural weather forecast products. What began as a network of 11 Cooperative Extension Service sites in Lake and Orange counties is now a statewide system of 36 sites located from Homestead to Jay, near Pensacola. Data are collected from each site every 15 minutes, and along with several calculated products and weather-related tools, are delivered to the public by way of the Internet. Data can also be retrieved via telephone voice message system.
FAWN’s mission is to “provide timely and accurate weather data to a wide variety of users,” develop effective management tools to assist resource managers and those involved with protecting life and property; and subsequently generate a substantial positive financial impact on numerous economic segments of Florida.
All FAWN resources are available free-of-charge at the FAWN website, which can be found at http://fawn.ifas.ufl.edu. The FAWN Homepage shows a map of the state of Florida with air temperature displayed at each FAWN location. Weather data can be accessed via the Report Generator, which allows the user to retrieve archived data from any (or all) of the FAWN sites. Users can also listen to current observations at any FAWN site via the FAWN Interactive Voice Response System, which can be particularly useful when current data are still needed, but access to the FAWN website is not practical.
Management Tools have become a key component of FAWN’s service. At the heart of these tools is the Cold Protection Toolkit, a step-by-step decision making guide for using water for cold protection. This toolkit guides the user through the cold protection process by providing 1) a 7 day National Weather Service (NWS) forecast, 2) comparison of the NWS forecasted temperature and the observed temperature at any FAWN site (for individual cold events), 3) the potential for evaporative cooling, and 4) a temperature at which a running irrigation system can be stopped with no risk of further damage. The Urban Irrigation Scheduler aids the user with urban/landscape irrigation scheduling, and the Citrus Irrigation Scheduler provides several guides for irrigating citrus trees. The Air Tempreature Threshold calculator generates a report showing the number of hours the air temperature at a FAWN site was above or below a user-selected temperature. Users can also download a number of “FAWN Fact Sheets” – user-friendly handouts – on various irrigation topics, including proper operation of irrigation controllers, for example; and can also view a narrated slide show titled “The Basics of Home Irrigation,” which covers several basic principles of home irrigation.
Reliable data and useful application of weather-related information are the overarching goals of the Florida Automated Weather Network. Access to quality data and management tools allow a variety of users to make informed decisions regarding the use of water. FAWN thanks the following for their financial support, which makes possible its ongoing operation and the development of quality products and services:
University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Southwest Florida Water Management District
South Florida Water Management District
St. Johns River Water Management District
story by WILLIAM R. LUSHER, DIRECTOR – Florida Automated Weather Network UF Insitute of Food and Agricultural Sciences