Your Own Weather Station
Very few things are as ‘handy’ as having your own home weather station in your backyard. And here’s what I consider the best home weather station.
Most of the units today allow you to keep track of rainfall, humidity, dew points, wind speed and direction, etc. With a little extra work, you can even send your data to the internet for everyone to see.
With a home weather station you can choose to spend a little, or increase the budget to get a ‘do it all’ unit. We’ll try and help you get the best for your money.
As you can see in this first picture, I’ve unpacked the unit on my kitchen island since it was the dead of winter and cold, snowy outside. Turns out to be an impressive system with very few parts that actually do the work. I chose the Davis Vantage Pro 2 Plus weather station and arrived on the 9th of February, 2011.
Local Weather at Your Fingertips
Where do you get your weather now? From the ‘local’ TV station miles away? An app on your phone that is most likely not real close to what your weather is doing? A combination of both? With one of the best home weather stations in your own back yard, you will now have local weather(your own micro-climate), even on your phone.
Using the data from your weather station
Many folks just like having their local weather at their fingertips, but I wanted to go little farther with mine. At first, all I wanted to do was to get my station data to Weather Underground, as they have a network of home weather enthusiasts around the world sending them data.
My site on WU is located here. My system updates to that site every few minutes and becomes a part of the local weather for Smethport and McKean County Pa. They use the weather data to assist them in forecasts and along with the ability to look at my weather web cam, to see what’s actually happening at my place.
The National Weather Service in State College Pa., is also aware of my weather site and frequently stop by for the data and to have a look at the live shots from the weather web cam.
Data is also sent to the one of the homes of backyard weather stations, the Gladstone site. Philip Gladstone began the site years ago to get weather data from backyard stations into the hands/computers of folks that could use the data for various reasons. They also analyse our data.
Another site for data gathering from home weather stations is FindU. My data, and that of thousands of other stations, is gathered and analysed for accuracy against any other stations that are in the region.
Meso West, located within the University of Utah, gets my data from CWOP and also does analysis and recording of the data for research in their weather department.
CWOP, the Citizens Weather Observer Program is the ‘Mother Ship’ for all things with your backyard weather station. They have all the info to help you purchase and install your weather station correctly. And disperse the data to folks that I even don’t know about. The ultimate authority!
McKean County Weather
The weather web cam pictures come from my next endeavor and that is my own personal weather website, McKean County Weather. From a computer in my basement that receives the data from unit,
I update my McKean Weather site every 5 minutes with the current data. I also use scripts from the National Weather Service and numerous other weather folks to use and store data for the world to see. Links across the top of the page on the weather site take you to many different forecasting tools, databases of data, satellite views, radar and much more.
It’s let me learn quite a bit about coding in a variety of web languages, such as PHP, MySQL and Cgi, as this site was hand coded by myself for each page of the site.
On the site and the web server, I have databases installed to where I can look back to the first day of setup if I wish. Or punch it a date, say my birthday, and find out what the weather was for that day each year in the database. We have a script on all the pages that warnings and watches from the NWS displays during stormy times.
McKean County Weather Web Cam
The Web Cam is a HikiVision Mini Bullet and is located on the back of my house, under an eave overlooking my back yard.
This compact unit gives a wide view of the valley I live in and the hills that make up our section in McKean County. Nearing four years on the job and it has never given me a bit of trouble.
The bottom of the hill across the valley floor is about 400 yards away from the camera as it gives a nice view on the sunny days, along with capturing storms as they move up and down the valley.
We also use another piece of software, called IPTimelapse, that will make a movie of the days pictures and they are loaded onto the website. We store a weeks worth of movies so we can look back to all things weather over the last seven days. Those movies are also available on the site to the general public and is one of the more popular pages I have.
So Which weather station is the best for your home?
After a few weeks of looking at the numerous options, I chose the Davis Vantage Pro II Plus for my wants and needs. I also chose the wireless version as I wanted to put it in the middle of the back yard. This unit has two advantages, as it’s run on solar power so no electrical wiring is needed to operate and it transmits without wires or cables.
A console, included in the package, receives the data in my house. That console is then fed into my router, then to my computer in the basement and onto the web. It was one of the best, and most enjoyable investments I have ever made. And I believe I have learned a lot about different things that I would have never been led into since the purchase.
A Look at My Home Weather Station
You can take a look at my setup, from unpacking on the kitchen island, to it’s temporary location in the dead of winter in 2011 and to it’s final placement the following spring.
Feel free to comment or ask any relevant question you may have. And if you live in the area, I can even be convinced to come and look at your location to help you choose the right location and unit.
All the Best!