When it comes to keeping Stanford University students, athletes and coaches protected and informed about disruptive weather on campus, Brian White is the go-to man on The Farm.
On top of his primary role as Athletic Trainer for men’s soccer and women’s tennis, he’s the conduit between the sports medicine and facilities groups regarding weather safety and monitoring on campus.
“I serve as a liaison of sorts,” he says. “If something is not working right in one of our rooms or facilities, then I’m generally the one who gets pinged on it.”
In recent years, weather safety and air quality monitoring have grown in significance on campus – especially with the recent increased wildfire activity around Northern California.
Brian grew up in Florida, “surrounded by hurricanes and lightning every other day, and thunderstorms,” he says. It’s different in the San Francisco Bay Area, home to Stanford.
“Out here, you get a little used to the 65 degrees and sunny weather almost every other day,” he says. “But what has transpired over the last 5 or 6 years is that we’ve been getting more and more of the ‘not so friendly’ weather.”
Additionally, the impact of smoke on air quality on campus has become “a huge concern for us.”
“The threat of air quality and fire is always a risk out here. That becomes a huge factor in the Bay Area in the months of March through late summer.”
Given Stanford’s need to prioritize athlete safety while also minimizing disruption for teams and coaches, Brian needed an accurate, modern weather safety platform and air quality monitoring system. Prior systems that Stanford tested weren’t working well, including a variety of paid and free services. The weather readings and alerts on those platforms didn’t always match Stanford’s on-the-ground reality.
“Everything seemed to be off from our on-campus readings,” he says. “We would hold up a cell phone, it’s lighting up like a Christmas tree, and there is literally nothing in the air.”
This would lead to tricky conversations with coaches and athletes, who would be practicing in outside conditions that didn’t always match what weather systems said.
“It hard to have a reliable reading or measurement,’” he says.
Today Stanford uses Perry Weather for monitoring air quality and lightning strikes, as well as gauging conditions on Stanford’s campus itself – in contrast with other services that monitor “something that’s in a 150-mile radius, or something at the airport,” Brian says.
In addition to campus-specific readings providing a better source of weather truth, Brian finds Perry Weather’s “ease of access” to be one of the most valuable functions. It’s key, given his unofficial role as a weather subject matter expert at Stanford.
Stanford sets their weather policies in advance with Perry Weather, and everyone who needs access to weather information can visit Brian to get set up with accurate data at their fingertips.
“We’re able to get our whole department on board with it,” Brian says. “Every can easily get familiar with it and know that it’s always there.”