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Weather buoy to aid boaters, anglers

Nate Thompson • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:47 PM

A Great Lakes weather buoy that was funded through a national grant will help local fishermen and others on the water get up-to-the-minute wind, wave and weather conditions.

The Grand Haven/Holland weather buoy, which is located three miles west of Port Sheldon Township in 80 feet of water, was funded by the Coastal Storms Program, a nationwide effort led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to make communities safer by reducing the loss of life and negative impacts caused by coastal storms.

According to Ed Verhamme, the project engineer at LimnoTech — the company which launced the buoy — the device features specific sensors which measure wind, waves and water pressure. As the waves move over them, the sensors can differentiate wave periods and directions between the underwater arrays.

"All the data is logged and then sent out," Verhamme said.

Verhamme said local charter boat associations and the Grand Haven Steelheaders helped pay for the buoy's temperature sensor, which scans the water every three feet and provides a real-time look at Lake Michigan's thermal profile. It also provides surface water temperature.

The buoy is also capable of measuring air temperature, dew point, and relative humidity; rainfall/hail intensity; and solar radiation.

"There's been an explosion of these in the Great Lakes the last three years," Verhamme said. "There's been 15 buoys added in the Great Lakes alone, but most by universities for research."

For example, the weather buoy located off the coast of Ludington was provided by the University of Michigan, Verhamme said.

All data from the weather buoy can be obtained from several sources for free. All of the parameters measured by the buoy are available on the Upper Great Lakes Observing System website (uglos.mtu.edu), the Great Lakes Observing System data portal website (data.glos.us/portal/), and through the NOAA National Data Buoy Center (ndbc.noaa.gov).

The grant provides the Grand Haven/Holland buoy seasonally (May through October) until 2015. Plans to deploy it past that date depend on local support.

Boaters are asked to stay 500 feet away from the buoy, which is moored by a 200-foot-long chain.

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