Starting the week of July 23rd, 2012, you’ll be able to get real-time temperature and wave conditions on Lake Michigan a few miles off Holland. Several local companies and groups have pulled together to get a weather buoy tested this season. They are waiting to hear about a grant to make the water-borne information center a permanent spot in the Big Lake.
Here are five things to know about the project:
1 The buoy will be launched after a public open house from 4-6 p.m. Monday at Macatawa Bay Yacht Club, 2157 South Shore Drive. The device will be on display before the buoy is launched. It will be towed about 2 miles offshore of Tunnel Park near the Holland Board of Public Works drinking water intake pipe.
2 Sensors will measure air temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, wave height and direction and water temperature, according to a press release. Data goes to the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids to improve forecasts and to alert boaters and swimmers of hazardous conditions and to the Coast Guard to aid in search and rescue operations. Observations will be transmitted every 10 minutes and can be accessed through the Upper Great Lakes Observing System website at bit.ly/hollandbuoy.
3 This is a pilot program put together by the Holland Board of Public Works, Holland Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Louis Padnos Iron and Metal and LimnoTech. Supporters also include the Holland Area Sailing Council, Holland Steelheaders, the Community Foundation of the Holland Zeeland Area, Anchorage Marina and the Surfrider Foundation of Lake Michigan. “We’re trying to make it part of the West Michigan buoy network,” said organizer Ed Verhamme of LimnoTech, an environmental engineering company in Ann Arbor. There are markers off St. Joseph, Ludington and soon New Buffalo. Holland was chosen as a test site because it’s a large metropolitan area with lots of summer boating traffic, Verhamme said. South Haven is a possible future site.
4 The money for the buoy, which cost $50,000, is being donated this year. Verhamme hopes to hear soon if the project has received grant funding from the Coastal Storms Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to help fund deployment of the buoy from 2013-15. Padnos and IXL Machine Shop are donating the mooring anchor made out of recycled train wheels. The 1-ton anchor will be towed to the Lake Michigan site by D.K. Construction of Holland on Friday. The mooring can be reused each year. The buoy hull was built by S2 Yachts of Holland.
5 The buoy could boost tourism by giving people the information they need to participate in swimming, boating, sailing and fishing, according to the Holland Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“One of our goals is to ensure that all visitors to the area have a safe and enjoyable experience. This project will fill a critical data gap that will encourage more people to use our area waters safely,” said Sally Laukitis, executive director of the group. For more information, call the convention and visitors bureau at (616) 394-0000.