Jun 30, 2016 - New Technology

Even though there is so much going on in the world, when you live in a desert climate, it hard to not constantly think about the weather. Living in a state which is currently tackling record-high temperatures means being tuned in to the weather. Discrepancies and inaccurate temperature measurements have led many to look to at home methods for reliable meteorology.

There is virtually nothing that we cannot learn on the internet, and that is where those who are sought to learn how to accurately predict and report the weather in their area have turned to acquire the necessary know-how.

There are a lot of amateur weather seekers out there, and in recent years, many have banded together online to start collecting more accurate and responsive data. This data and the hobbyists who collect it have made some waves in the meteorological community with their contributions.

Precise is not a word that is associated with meteorology, and it is commonly known that no real accuracy is guaranteed with predicting weather, at least not to the number. Weather is anomalous, and can change without any significant warning.

Meteorology is largely dependent on a global network of weather observations, conducted by both professional and amateur observers. The goal is to collect as much available and timely data from all around the world to make more exacting weather predictions. These predictions can be used to warn of potential upcoming disasters and can even save lives.

For amateurs, weather observing and reporting is a public service. There are countless Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and other social media amateur weather observing special interest groups which anyone with an interest in meteorology can join. The internet is the new home for relaying and interpreting collected data, and when a group of observers get together and share their joint information, amazing things can happen.

The Citizen Weather Observer Program (CWOP) began as amateur radio experimenters, but now it is an internet-based band of more than 8,000 privately owned weather stations. These private weather stations operate with an internet-only capacity. This allows the volunteers to send automated surface weather reading directly to the National Weather Service, who in turn can make significantly more accurate weather forecasts for the public.

Without programs like CWOP, weather could only be collected via satellites and government-run weather stations. The 150-country CWOP and other similar programs help alert citizens of the world to extreme weather conditions, and directly aid in emergency preparedness efforts for everyone. Without an internet connection, all of this data would be virtually useless if it could not be applied on a larger, global scale.

Websites like Weather Underground and Great Weather operate as community-based amateur weather prediction sites which many people have come to rely upon for their accurate weather maps and forecasts.

In Southern Arizona, we need reliable and correct weather information in order to make informed decisions about potentially risky outdoor activities which can cause heat exhaustion or hazardous monsoons which can cause flash flooding. Internet weather sites are vital to keeping informed, and we all owe the network of amateur observers which provide this information a big thank you.

If you are interested in amateur meteorology, getting started is easier than you might think. There are a number of highly-rated personal weather stations on the market which can send your unit’s collected information directly to observer websites.

The premade personal weather stations use a number of sensors to read different types of information. These sensors include thermocouples, thermistors, hygrometers, barometers, rain gauges, and anemometers, all of which work together to provide details about current and upcoming weather.

Amateur observers measure wind, temperature, and rain, recording those numbers, study weather patterns, and make predictions based on that information. When you have compiled your stats, it can then be uploaded to websites and added to weather maps and forecasts.

Plugging your personal weather station into networks like Weather Underground requires a reliable internet connection, so be sure that you have chosen a dependable ISP to keep your hobby flourishing.

Last, do not forget that at home weather observing is a community-based activity, so get online and find the right group for you and your hobby and start sharing!