New rooftop weather station hopes to help UT Austin students stay safe during football season

Meghan Nguyen

Instead of relying on data from weather stations miles away, UT meteorologists can now predict inclement weather right on campus with the help of a new rooftop weather station on top of the UT Police Department’s Emergency Operations Center.

The station will provide real-time data, such as temperature, heat index and rainfall to complement existing weather protocols.

After about two years of planning, the rooftop station was installed Aug. 17 and will be used for the first home game next Saturday. University incident meteorologist Troy Kimmel spearheaded the proposal. 

“We can get temperature data (from) Camp Mabry and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, but our new campus equipment allows for continuous observation (whereas) the Mabry and Bergstrom sites only report once hourly,” Kimmel said.

UT has specific weather protocols in place for football season developed in collaboration with the NCAA, Austin Police Department and UTPD. Lauren Lichterman, operations and sustainability coordinator at Texas Athletics Fan Services, said the new station will help observe potential bad weather that could impact game day.

“We’re constantly monitoring the weather as well as all other aspects of game day to ensure the safest environment for our fans, teams and staff,” Lichterman said. “This weather system will help us better predict potential inclement weather that could impact the game day experience.” 

Funding for the station amounted to less than $1,000. 

UTPD Chief David Carter said the new station is important because Central Texas is vulnerable to severe weather.

“We’ve had issues in the past, being in Central Texas, with flash flooding,” Carter said. “When the creeks rise, they can rise very rapidly when there’s a dangerous storm or a lot of water coming in …  It’s very important for us to know, on a local level, what’s going on in our particular area.”

Austin Decker, chemistry junior and Hellraisers vice president, said although the new weather station may be able to warn Longhorns of hazardous weather, it will not deter them from attending games if there is no immediate danger. 

“As a Hellraiser, I am someone who will stand in almost any weather to watch the Longhorns play,” Decker said. “I think that this is a cool tool for the football team to use to better help them get ready. But as for the fans, this is just gonna tell us what we already know … (it’s) hot.”