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
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.
When choosing a weather station, or components of a weather station, carefully consider the key decision areas. Should the system be cabled, or wireless? Is it easy to set up and use? How many sensors are offered, and how accurate and reliable will they be? Are all the sensors mounted in one ‘integrated’ system, or can they be positioned separately for the optimum exposure in each case? Do the records obtained need to conform to ‘official standards’? Examples and suggestions are given in The Weather Observer’s Handbook.
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.
Terminal hours based around ‘day maximum’ and ‘night minimum’ temperatures (where the extremes span only 12 hour periods) will generally give results which are incompatible with ‘24 hour’ sites, particularly in temperate latitudes in the winter months.
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.