When telephones were first demonstrated, callers weren’t sure what to say to someone they couldn’t see.
In one such demonstration one side said, “How’s the weather there?” The excited reply was “Oh, we’re not having any!”
OK, we know that even warm and sunny summer days are weather. We do, however, retain the right to complain about any kind of weather – even warm and sunny summer days. Why else would we live here?
Have you noticed that the weather “feel” is often different depending on where you are in town? These are called microclimates which can range in size from a few square feet to many square miles.
Red Wing, with its hills and bluffs, has many microclimates. The weather at my previous house near downtown was more humid and cooler than at my current house on a dry, windy bluff top. This is why the weather at your house is often different than what a TV meteorologist says. Just riding a bike along the Cannon Valley Trail takes you through a number of microclimates.
Much of this is obvious. But to really define a specific microclimate you need to compare historical weather data from each area. In the past, it was a lot of work collecting that data with the use of a variety of mechanical devices and analog gauges to measure wind, rain, air pressure, temperature, humidity and more. The data was collected with a pen and paper.
Now, thanks to the internet and new technology, you can collect all of this data in your yard with one device, from which a history of the collected weather data is created. It also uses the data collected from your station to help fine-tune a forecast for your exact location.
And that’s why I bought a “personal weather station.”
I’ve always wanted a weather station and this one is dead simple to use. You mount it somewhere in an open area of your yard and that’s it. It measures rain, wind, air pressure, UV, temperature, humidity and it even counts lightning strikes. It measures rain amount and intensity by counting droplet hits and their impact. Really.
But wait! There’s more! It’s solar powered so needs no batteries. It also connects wirelessly to a computer network and then to the internet where the data is collected along with data from thousands of similar devices. I monitor and configure mine using their app on my smart phone or tablet.
It even notifies me when rain starts or when lightning has been detected and how far away it was. Gives me time to shut the windows and start worrying. Recently I was notified that lightning was detected 21-24 miles away. The sky was clear but radar did show a small storm just north of Red Wing.
The data collected at your house would likely be different than at a neighbor’s down the street. Maybe not by much but together with data from many such devices it presumably gives a clearer picture of an area’s weather.
The weather station manufacturer says that they provide the collected data free to research groups but they sell the data to businesses. I’m fine with that. It’s just tracking my yard’s weather so if it helps an area farmer make better planting decisions or a university research team study climate change, I’m all for it.
My weather station was mounted on a pole zip tied to a fence post in my back yard for a year until I got brave enough to mount it on the roof. There it would have a mostly unobstructed exposure to the elements.
So one day, before it got too hot for roof work, I carefully hauled the tripod, pole, weather station, tools, grounding wire, assorted screws, pads, mounts and a light lunch to the peak of my house. The long grounding wire was even color-matched to the shingles. It went fairly well. I only had to climb down twice because of wrong tools. The station is noticeable from the street. If the neighbors complain I’ll just tell them that it’s a UFO sensor, part of a secret Space Force project.
I can access my weather data from anywhere because it’s on the internet. In fact, anyone who has one of these weather stations has the option of sharing its info with the world. So I’m doing that, too. You can access it in a web browser at https://tempestwx.com/station/63466/.
The site includes a map showing the location of my station as well as shared stations in the area or in the world. Just zoom out and click on any of them to see if they’re having any weather. There are numerous options including current conditions and historical data. Just click on things of interest to see where they lead. Then check the data at other sites for comparison. You might need to learn some meteorology terms. The site does not provide weather radar. You can get that elsewhere.
Note that I’m not selling or promoting this weather station. If you view my weather site you will unavoidably see the brand name and a sales link. There are many other weather stations that may also work well. I just happened to choose this one.
Maybe what I like best about my weather station is that it might make my house the tallest in our microclimate.