Downtown gets new weather monitor
by Rudy Herndon
Staff Writer
Aug 29, 2013 | 1602 views | 0 0 comments | 53 53 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Zach Bynum shows off the new WeatherBug monitoring station in downtown Moab. Photo by Rudy Herndon
Zach Bynum shows off the new WeatherBug monitoring station in downtown Moab. Photo by Rudy Herndon
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Zach Bynum used to tune into the statewide newscasts and seethe whenever forecasters predicted that the weather in Moab would be cooler than it actually was.

He’s still annoyed by the thought that some tourists might scrap their plans to visit the area, based on inaccurate weather reports from Salt Lake City-based TV stations. But instead of stewing about it, the general manager of Best Western Plus’ Canyonlands Inn teamed up with local officials to offer tourists and residents alike more reliable information.

Beginning this week, anyone who visits the WeatherBug website will have round-the-clock access to data from a new tower on the roof of the Canyonlands Inn.

WeatherBug partner KUTV will be broadcasting the same information on Channel 2, and Bynum is optimistic that it will help the local tourist industry during the off-season months of March and April, in particular.

In the past, the TV reports he found so irksome often suggested that the weather in St. George was much nicer than it was here.

But once the word about the new station gets out, Bynum is optimistic that visitors might head over in this direction, instead.

“Hopefully, we can trend that toward more people coming to Moab,” he said.

Up until recently, the main source of information about local weather came from the higher-elevation Canyonlands Field Airport, which is located about 16 to 18 miles north of town.

However, that information is not always reliable, according to Bynum.

Generally speaking, the weather at Canyonlands Field tends to be more severe than it is in town, he said.

It’s often windier at the airport, and depending on the day, Bynum said it’s not unusual to see a 10- to 15-degree difference in temperatures between the two locations.

On those days, the number of hotel room cancellations tends to increase, and those impacts add up over time, he said.

Local officials seemed to be cognizant of the issue.

Thanks to matching funds from the City of Moab and the Moab Area Travel Council, Bynum was able to secure a WeatherBug grant for the new rooftop station.

“They were already aware of the problem, very aware of my concerns and very eager to assist,” he said.

Several local businesses also chipped in, he said.

Those donations might be a signal that others see the overall potential in a new weather station.

“I think it’s kind of a community project, as opposed to something that would just benefit this hotel,” he said. “Everyone’s very interested … They’re very receptive to the idea.”

Eventually, Bynum would like to install a webcam at the site.

Until then, however, he’s content with the new arrangement.

“It’s not a perfect solution, but at least it’s an affordable start,” he said.

For the latest updates from the new weather station, go to: http://weather.weatherbug.com/UT/Moab-weather.html?zcode=z6286&zip=84532, or visit KUTV’s website, www.kutv.com.

Anyone interested in helping offset the costs of the new equipment should contact Bynum at 435-259-2300, or email zbynum@canyonlandsinn.com.

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