Jon Contezac, a meteorologist with extensive sensor experience, will focus on building collaborations with Mount Vernon researchers, developing an extension/outreach agricultural meteorology program for the region, and increasing the impact of AgWeatherNet on agriculture west of the Cascades.
“Northwest Washington farmers have often expressed a desire for improved distribution and quality control of weather stations across the region as a basis for decision-making,” said Chad Kruger, Mount Vernon REC director. “Having an ag meteorologist on site to build relationships with weather information users is an extremely positive development for Northwest Washington agriculture.”
With high-value agriculture expanding in Northwest Washington, there is an opportunity for AgWeatherNet to partner with Mount Vernon researchers to better serve the small fruit, dairy, vegetable seed, tulip, and potato industries. These producers could benefit from additional weather stations and the development of regionally relevant online decision-support tools addressing supplemental irrigation for rain-fed specialty crops, weather-related pest management, and regulatory compliance.
Placing a field meteorologist at Mount Vernon is part of a larger AgWeatherNet reorganization to better meet diverse industry needs for a meteorologically complex state. With recent improvements in commercial plug-and-play weather stations, the AgWeatherNet program is working to substantially increase the number of stations incorporated into the network—maintained by AgWeatherNet or other public and private entities. Greater station density will allow AgWeatherNet to deliver field-specific weather data, forecasts, and decision-support tools.
To address these priorities, AgWeatherNet is hiring staff with expertise in meteorology and data science, and placing them at WSU locations throughout the state: Prosser, Wenatchee, Mount Vernon, and Pullman. Contezac has over five years experience maintaining professional weather stations, working for both the Oklahoma Mesonet program and AgWeatherNet. With the AgWeatherNet reorganization, Jon has moved from Prosser to Mount Vernon and assumed new responsibilities for meteorological research and extension.
Northwest Washington stakeholders are encouraged to reach out to either Contezac (firstname.lastname@example.org), AgWeatherNet director Dave Brown (email@example.com), or Stakeholder Advisory Board members (https://weather.wsu.edu) with suggestions on how to better serve the region. Contezac will be regularly attending regional stakeholder events so agricultural producers will have opportunities for face-to-face conversations with their meteorologist.
With legislative support, the WSU AgWeatherNet program maintains 175 professional weather stations and related computer systems for delivery of near real-time weather information and agricultural decision support tools.