This site provides useful practical information related to global and national weather observing practices and instruments, including independent equipment reviews.
You will find much of the background in my book The Weather Observer’s Handbook (published by Cambridge University Press), details of which can also be found on this site, together with useful links and downloads.
Author, The Weather Observer’s Handbook
A nation obsessed with the weather? Yes, certainly, but which nation?
Tip of The Day
Where accurate air pressure records are required, the observed barometer reading needs to be adjusted to a standard level, usually mean sea level (MSL), because air pressure decreases rapidly with altitude. A variety of approaches exist to correct or ‘set’ a barometer to mean sea level: four are described in The Weather Observer's Handbook The choice of method depends upon accuracy sought (and the accuracy of the sensor) and height above sea level. Downloadable Excel spreadsheets are available on this site to simplify the production of site-specific sea level correction tables where desired.
AWS software provides three key functions – system setup and configuration, communication with and downloading of data from the datalogger, and the display of current and logged data. Most offer some form of data upload to Internet/website.
Weather station specifications within The Weather Observer's Handbook are suggested within four very loose ‘user profiles’ – Starter, Hobbyist, Amateur and Professional – intended as a pragmatic starting point to what is practical and affordable within various budget and site restraints. As an example, with a limited budget it is probably better to concentrate on air temperature and rainfall observations: wind speed and direction (for instance) are more expensive to measure, and the site requirements are more complex. These and other elements can probably follow at a later stage as budgets (and perhaps an improved site) allow.
Satisfactory site and sensor exposure are fundamental to obtaining representative weather observations. An open well-exposed site is the ideal, of course, but with planning and careful positioning of the instruments, good results can often be obtained from all but the most sheltered locations.
Precipitation measurements are very sensitive to exposure – particularly to the wind – and the choice of site is very important to ensure comparable and consistent records are obtained. Choose an unsheltered (but not too exposed) spot for the raingauge/s – loss of catch through wind effects is the greatest single error in precipitation measurements, particularly in snow. A site on short grass or gravel is preferable. Wherever possible, obstructions (particularly upwind obstructions in the direction of the prevailing rain-bearing winds) should be at least twice their height away from the raingauge. Rooftop sites are particularly vulnerable to wind effects and should be avoided. The site should also be secure, but accessible for maintenance (grass cutting, etc.) as required.