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 new book The Weather Observer’s Handbook (Cambridge University Press, 2012), 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
A once-daily ‘morning observation’ is the best time to read/reset any manual instruments in use, as well as perform visual checks on the operation of the sensors for an automatic weather station AWS, particularly raingauge funnels which are likely to become blocked if left unchecked. A manual observation also provides a convenient opportunity to note current weather details such as the amount and types of cloud, the surface visibility, present weather, the occurrence of lying snow, and so on.
The majority of AWS owners opt for a third-party AWS software package over the manufacturer’s offering. Five leading packages account for more than four in five of AWSs surveyed in the United States, the United Kingdom and Ireland, although there are also others available. There is no ‘best’ solution, all packages have pros and cons, and the choice is largely one of personal preference. Most of the leading software is available on a ‘try before you buy’ basis, and it is best to ‘try before you buy’.
The calibration of all barometric pressure sensors, particularly electronic units, should be checked regularly to avoid calibration drift. More details are given in The Weather Observer's Handbook, Chapter 15.
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.
Wind is a vector quantity – it has both direction and speed. Wind direction refers to where the wind is coming from. A wind vane needs to be accurately aligned to true north, which is slightly different to the magnetic north shown by a magnetic compass.