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New Antennas In Fairmont To Improve Weather, Climate Forecasts

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FAIRMONT -

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provides data critical for weather and climate prediction.

Two years ago, it decided to bring its environmental satellite network to Fairmont.  It wasn't until recently that the plans became reality.

Three new antennas in Fairmont will collect data to improve weather forecasts and understand long-term climate change.

"What you see being erected right now in the I-79 Technology Park are the three primary antennas that are going to communicate with all of these brand new satellites," said Jim Estep, West Virginia High Technology Consortium Foundation President.

The antennas are nothing like you would expect them to be.

In fact, if you're traveling down I-79 past exit 132 you won't be able to miss them.

"Each antenna about 75 feet tall and about 50 feet wide. So it's going to be hard to miss," Estep said.

But what exactly will these antennas be used for?

"Fairmont was chosen as the location for one of the new mission control centers for all of the new weather satellites that are being launched," Estep said.

Even WBOY's Jason Parrish is excited about the new weather satellites.

"This is really exciting to see this cutting edge weather technology right up the road from WBOY," said Jason Parrish, Chief Meteorologist. "It's something that we use everyday."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's new weather satellites will make major contributions to improved weather and climate forecasting.

"I have the philosophy that the more data, the better," Parrish said. "With these new satellites being launched we're going to have more data and obviously that's going to improve the forecasting and also of course the short term forecasting when it comes to severe weather."

Fairmont is one of only two places in the country that is doing the main communications with the weather satellites.

The other is located in Maryland.

"Having the program, the project here but also the infrastructure. I hope it not only continues to prestige, but it opens up additional opportunities for us in the community," Estep said.

Estep said the construction of the antennas should be completed by mid-spring.

People from all over the world will then be able to predict weather and climate changes weeks in advance.