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An Introduction to Weather Stations

Man has placed great importance on observing and predicting the weather for millennia.  From as early as 650 BC, ancient seaman and farmers had already gathered considerable practical knowledge concerning clouds and their implications on the weather. This allowed them to forecast the weather for the near future with surprising accuracy. The problem was that people from every land did it differently. The Babylonians had their own method, the Chinese theirs, and the Indians had an approach distinct from both those of the two peoples. Not until weather instruments were invented (1400-1900) were people able to standardise the units and equipment used in weather prediction. This technological breakthrough facilitated the evolution of meteorology into a genuine field of science.

With all the advanced tools we have in the current age, it is quite simple for one to make their own observations of the local weather. And doing so is so affordable that an individual can have their own deceptively inexpensive weather station composed of some of the most advanced equipment of its kind. Depending on the features you want to include in your station, prices can range from about $30 to $3,000+.

Personal weather stations have the ability to display an astonishingly large array of weather conditions, whether it is the temperature, internal and external humidity,precipitation, wind direction and speed, wind chill, atmospheric pressure, dew point, heat index, or even solar and ultraviolet radiation. And all of this information can be gathered without even leaving the house!

This kind of advanced technology may seem like it would be very complex and too sophisticated for the common man to make use of, but, in actuality, that is far from the truth. Naturally, weather experts will get more out of the machines, but the equipment is more than easy enough for amateurs to utilise as well.

The weather stations come either cabled or wireless. In most cases, cabled ones use a cable to attach the indoor display console to an integrated sensor package. These are usually cheaper than their wireless counterparts. However, users would have to bore a hole in the wall to pass the cable through. Wireless weather stations, the more expensive type of the two, use radio signals instead of a cable to allow the sensors to communicate with the indoor console. The maximum unobstructed range of the signal varies greatly between models (starting around 80 and going as high as 1000), but the effective range takes into account the obstructions the signal must pass through, like walls, as well as any sources that could possibly provide electromagnetic interference, like microwaves or baby monitors. Generally, the range at which the signal can effectively reach from the console to the sensor package is estimated to be half to a third of the range for that specific wireless weather station when the signal is unimpeded.

It is imperative that the sensors of a personal weather station be "sited" in an appropriate place in order to yield accurate data.  Once the setup of the station is done, the sensors start transmitting information to the indoor digital display console. This console will continuously present the latest data on its screen and record the observations at a certain interval pre-set by the machine’s manufacturer. It is possible that this interval will be different for each kind of weather instrument. For example, a thermometer which measures temperature and a barometer which measures atmospheric pressure may transmit the data they collect at different intervals. The data transmission interval may also be fixed, causing all of the sensors in the weather station to send their collected information to the console at the same interval; say, every two minutes.

Predictably, many electronic weather stations possess the ability to interface with a computer as if it was a display console, just more advanced and with more features. This functionality may be included with the package or be available as a supplementary utility. The advantage of hooking the weather equipment up to a computer is advanced data collection and the ability to organise the data into graphs that can be analysed more easily. In addition, a computer’s capability of accessing the Internet allows you to place weather data on your own webpage or share the information you collected with another individual or group, such as the Citizen Weather Observer Program (CWOP). They forward the information they get from helpful citizens in a format that the National Weather Service can use.

But you don’t need an Internet connection or even a computer to be of aid. Anyone can volunteer as a Skywarn "spotter" that provides their local NWS weather forecast office with prudent meteorological data and warns them of imminent threats. 

ABOUT MONAX

Monax Test and Weather are your specialist weather station and environmental monitoring experts. We have been selling and supporting our products since 2004 and pride ourselves on matching the right product to your needs and providing full after-sales support. We believe our relationship with you starts well before you buy and goes as long as you need us. Shop with Monax and know you’re getting the right product.