PARK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD/AP) - A weather buoy was launched into Lake Michigan as part of a pilot program backed by several companies and organizations.
The buoy is equipped with sensors to measure air and water temperature, wind speed and wave height, among other things. It was towed about two miles from shore Monday evening after a public open house in Ottawa County's Park Township.
Storm Team 8's Kyle Underwood said Lake Michigan is a huge obstacle to meteorologists. Aside from radar's ability to estimate wind speeds from within a storm, it's difficult to know how strong a thunderstorm's winds are. Now, with an expanding network of buoys in Lake Michigan, it may be easier to gain the upper hand on big storms.
Starting Monday night, real-time buoy data for winds, waves and temperatures will be available online, free of charge.
"Not only do you have access to real-time data, but you can also see the trends," explained Don Wire of S2 Yachts.
That stream of information will help forecasters warn of rip currents and other dangerous lake conditions.
At the Macatawa Bay Yacht Club, sailors are looking forward to the weather reports.
"We need to know what the conditions are out on the big lake," said Jack Knoblauch of the Macatawa Bay Yacht Club. "We're faced with a decision: Do we take 75 boats down the channel, go out and find there's no wind? Or do we hold them here and get live data from an actual buoy?"
The Holland Sentinel reports that the Holland area was chosen as a test site because it's a metropolitan area with abundant summer boating traffic. Other buoys are in operation in the lake.
--The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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