TAMPA, Fla. — When deadly weather moves into the area, speed saves lives.
That’s why Tampa Fire Rescue just installed five brand new, state-of-the-art weather stations, scattered throughout the city.
The department says the information gathered by the WeatherSTEM system will help protect first responders and the public by relaying potentially life-saving information about storms, changing weather patterns and dangerous lightning in our region – right down to the neighborhood level.
“Now that we had these weather stations embedded at each of our fire districts, it’s going to make us make better decisions,” said Tampa Fire Rescue’s John Antapasis.
Tampa decided to look into the WeatherSTEM system after hurricane Irma.
The storm taught city officials they needed a more localized way to monitor weather conditions so they could let first responder crews know when it was safe to go out and help people — and when they needed to get back inside to protect themselves.
“So, with these weather stations in each fire district, we’re going to have that real-time data to make sure we can maintain our operations as long as possible,” Antapasis said.
The public can also access the system through an app and on Twitter.
There are five locations, each with its own Twitter handle.
The locations are:
- Central Tampa – Tampa Fire Rescue Station 1 (808 E Zack St) - @FSWNTampaFire1
- South Tampa – Tampa Fire Rescue Station 15 (4919 S Himes Ave) - @FSWNAlertTampaS
- New Tampa – Tampa Fire Rescue Station 22 (10871 Cross Creek Blvd) - @FSWNAlertTampaN
- West Tampa – Raymond James Stadium - @FSWNRayJay
- North Tampa – University of South Florida - @USFWeatherSTEM
Each station also offers live camera views and customizable preferences for weather alerts, flooding and rainfall information, lightning and other hyper-local weather conditions.
“You can put those alerts through this app right on your phone to get those alerts to you,” Antapasis said.
The WeatherSTEM system was installed with cooperation from the Florida Department of Emergency Management, which is also covering the first three years of associated expenses. After that, the city of Tampa will foot the bill.
Tampa Fire Rescue says it’s confident the WeatherSTEM system will help people protect themselves and their property as it allows them to respond faster and safer.
“Ultimately,” said Antapasis, “It means saving more lives and being able to respond longer during a chaotic and dangerous situation.”