In my stormwater training courses, one question always seems to come up: what is the appropriate level of weather monitoring that must be performed on construction or industrial sites to stay in compliance with stormwater regulations? The answer—weather must be checked on a daily basis—is often met with consternation. I empathize with this reaction because I know my students already have a lot on their plates in terms of meeting a multitude of regulations, including the requirement to maintain accurate weather information and comply with strict stormwater regulations. Making this process more simple and efficient was one of the driving forces behind the development of our CloudCompli app.
There are really two types of weather data that must be collected for sites:predictive weather data from Noaa.gov and actual rainfall data collected from a rain gauge onsite or nearby. The point behind these dual requirements is that the predictive data helps you prepare your site and paperwork for upcoming rain, while the actual rainfall data informs you when to sample and prepare during the rain and while filling out the post-rain paperwork.
A typical practice that I encourage for the collection of the predictive data is to visit noaa.gov, pull the daily forecast, print it, and place it in a binder to be left onsite. As for the actual rain data, I always recommend the installation of an onsite rain gauge if possible or if a nearby rain gauge is available, utilize that data. I then recommend that you take the total rain amount, if any, from the previous day and enter that amount in the site rain log.
New technologies now available to site managers offer more automated options that can make the process easier and save time on compliance. The first tool that can help with predictive weather data is a web based application called StormPop.com. This simple and free service allows a user to enter in a zip code for a project or facility and begin receiving weather summaries from noaa.gov on a weekly basis and email alerts when a weather event is predicted. In addition, you can view and print the correct weather forecast page. StormPop, however, will not help with the actual rainfall on the site.
Utilizing the tool that we have developed, CloudCompli, is another, more advanced option. CloudCompli is a subscription-based, stormwater management solution that provides weather monitoring automation for both predictive and actual rainfall. Four years ago, when we started development of the application, the very first feature we tackled was weather monitoring. Our primary goal was to help inspectors and site operators save time on stormwater monitoring and make the process less stressful. This was mainly due to the obvious benefits of automating multiple requirements, but also due to my experiences in QSP classes, witnessing inspectors’ surprised reactions when they realize the extent of the weather-monitoring requirements placed on them within the permit.
For predictive data, CloudCompli and StormPop utilize a connection with Noaa.gov that essentially pulls in weather data for a specific site or location (the permit specifically requires us to use NOAA) This data is downloaded at intervals, then parsed, then fed into the project for printing capabilities if needed. The data also feeds into a notification system that alerts users when a predictive threshold has been exceeded (a common threshold is a prediction of rain greater than 50%).
When we turned our attention to actual rain data, we realized that to truly offer a completely automated weather solution, CloudCompli would need to bring in actual weather data. StormPop and all the other tools out there, do not provide this level of automation. So earlier this year, CloudCompli became the first real solution to implement full weather station connectivity, which allowed us to take weather monitoring automation to the next level. The key for us was the development of a connection to retrieve weather station data from a large network of over 90,000 weather stations across the country. Additionally, users can connect their own personal station to the network and CloudCompli can retrieve this data, including: temperature, wind speed, rainfall, and many other parameters; all presented in the site weather information page within CloudCompli. There is also still the option to use a manual onsite rain gauge, with an easy-to-input rain log that can be exported to PDF at anytime. But to truly experience the power of CloudCompli automation, we encourage users to connect to a nearby weather station or their own station.
As of late, weather monitoring has been our focus at CloudCompli. We are now able to present an assortment of weather data in addition to rain data, such as predictive wind speeds and predictive temperature. This can be especially useful for safety purposes as well. We also now have a doppler radar link for your site within the site weather page. One of my future blogs will focus on some of the key weather metrics that are available within CloudCompli and available on other tools. The overarching goal, however, remains the same: utilize advanced technology to take as much off your plate as possible and make your job easier.