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A U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) station in Cape Charles, VA, located 4.7 miles east of a campground in that area was impacted by a severe thunderstorm and EF-1 tornado on the morning of July 24, 2014. The USCRN station observed sustained surface winds of 30 mph with a 50 mph 10-second wind gust along with record setting precipitation rates. Over a 10-minute period, the USCRN station observed 5- and 10-minute rainfall totals of 0.95 in. (24.17 mm) and of 1.63 in. (41.40 mm) respectively. Both of these totals are new all-time USCRN records, shattering the previous 5- and 10-minute precipitation records of 0.88 in. and 1.50 in. respectively that were set last year at the Sundance, WY USCRN station. According to NOAA's Precipitation Frequency Atlas14 (see http://www.nws.noaa.gov/oh/hdsc/currentpf.htm), such precipitation rates for this location qualify as 1000-year events! The Cape Charles station performed well under these conditions but did not escape unscathed as a hailstone is believed to have broken one of the secondary sensors used to detect atmospheric wetness. For more information see the full article.

USCRN Overview

The U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) consists of 114 stations in the conterminous U.S.; an eventual total of 29 stations in Alaska (with 16 as of the end of the summer of 2014); and 2 in Hawaii, that are developed, deployed, managed, and maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the continental United States for the express purpose of detecting the national signal of climate change. The vision of the USCRN program is to maintain a sustainable high-quality climate observation network that 50 years from now can with the highest degree of confidence answer the question: How has the climate of the nation changed over the past 50 years? These stations were designed with climate science in mind. Three independent measurements of temperature and precipitation are made at each station, insuring continuity of record and maintenance of well-calibrated and highly accurate observations. The stations are placed in pristine environments expected to be free of development for many decades. Stations are monitored and maintained to high standards, and are calibrated on an annual basis. In addition to temperature and precipitation, these stations also measure solar radiation, surface skin temperature, and surface winds, and are being expanded to include triplicate measurements of soil moisture and soil temperature at five depths, as well as atmospheric relative humidity. Experimental stations have been located in Alaska since 2002 and Hawaii since 2005, providing network experience in polar and tropical regions. Deployment of a complete 29 station USCRN network into Alaska began in 2009 and should be complete by 2022. This project is managed by NOAA's National Climatic Data Center and operated in partnership with NOAA's Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division.

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