Virginia Tech Meteorology Students Go to New Heights for Weather Prediction

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GILES CO. (WSLS 10) - On one of the coldest mornings of the year, Virginia Tech meteorology students braved the elements to check on their brand new weather station 4,400 feet above sea level.

"It's a good location because we can actually see what's going on in the lower parts of the atmosphere when we normally can't tell what's going on up here," said Virginia Tech sophomore Brandon Pierson.

Conditions can be drastically different from the lower elevations of Southwest Virginia to the higher, which is why the Virginia Tech students picked this location for the new weather station.

"A lot of people in Roanoke and Blacksburg don't realize the differences you see in weather and climate as you climb up to our very highest points. We have a half a foot of new snow up here," said Virginia Tech meteorology instructor Dave Carroll.

The goal is to compare computer forecasts at the 5,000 foot level to what the new weather station actually records.

"This height in particular is good for snow and winter weather forecast - a difference of one degree will make the difference between snow, sleet, freezing rain,or just rain," said Virginia Tech sophomore John Herrick.

Which will help lead to more accurate weather forecasts down the road even if it takes a lot of work to get to the top.

"When we're setting up a weather station for research and climate monitoring purposes, the top of the mountain is the perfect place and it comes with a cost," said Carroll. A cost these students say is worth it every step of the way.

This is just the start for these Virginia Tech weather stations.

The students are working to install more stations on several more mountain tops in the very near future.

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