Quantum Weather is a collaborative research project between Ameren Missouri and the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Saint Louis University.
The Quantum Weather project began as an effort to forecast where pollen concentrations would be highest but became linked to severe weather events after a 2006 ice storm.
Saint Louis University professor Robert Pasken, Ph.D. saw that system develop, as well as a severe storm threat earlier that summer. In both cases, he knew the threat was more intense than what was forecast but was limited in what he could do to help.
Pasken and William Dannevik, Ph.D., a former chair of SLU’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, approached Ameren Missouri with a solution.
The Quantum Weather partnership followed in 2008. It allows the utility to prioritize efforts to restore service by focusing on areas SLU’s team projects will be most severely affected by the event, days in advance.
It soon had a chance to prove itself. Another ice storm hit in southern Missouri in 2009.
Ameren Missouri was able to bring crews in 24 hours in advance. Outages occurred but all power was restored in nine days, whereas a neighboring utility took up to six weeks to do the same.
Detailed, near real-time information is sent over Ameren Missouri's radio communications systems to central computers in SLU's Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Using computer models and analytical tools created by SLU researchers, the system produces highly detailed maps of weather activity that may affect neighborhoods across Ameren Missouri's service territory.
Weather information is gathered from more than 100 sensors around the state and weather balloons loaded with instruments that probe the vertical structure of the atmosphere launched by SLU researchers.