What to record

The number and range of equipment to record weather data is quite extensive. It is helpful to think carefully what information you really want to record before making a rash decision. Spending some time at this point would also help to narrow down the range instruments. I suggest it might be helpful to consider the range of instruments in three separate stages.

Stage 1

Temperature

The simplest and greatest range of instruments composes those that measure air temperature. These are often the starting point for a weather station as the air temperature is obvious and relevant to us as humans – bringing hot or cold weather and much in between. Readings can be made quite simply whenever the observer wishes. However, the most useful data is to record the daily maximum and minimum values. There is additional interest in recording the actual temperature at a set time each day.

Stage 2

A person developing an interest in the subject will perhaps, at a later date, want to move on to a wider range of data, perhaps for rainfall, barometric pressure along with wind direction and strength.

Precipitation

Rainfall can be captured in any receptacle but accuracy would not be standardized due to the varying capacity of differing containers and measuring methods. There are simple plastic funnel collecting units with a simple measuring guide printed on the side to professional copper gauges and glass measuring jars that give very accurate readings. There are also rain gauges that record precipitation automatically, often referred to as “tipping bucket gauges”. There is an increasing interest in rainfall totals and its severity with a changing climate.

Barometric Pressure

For those wanting to develop their understanding of meteorology and its impact on climate a barometer is essential. Most households have a small, simple aneroid barometer hanging on the wall somewhere that receives a perfunctory ‘tap’ as people pass. The enthusiast will want to explore more advanced and precise electronic versions as the hobby progresses.

Wind Strength and Direction

Another very obvious element of our weather is the wind. Not only is a strong wind uncomfortable but also above certain levels can be very damaging to property. Naturally, wind speed can be greater near the coast or on high ground. However, in addition to wind speed it is vitally important to know from which direction the wind is coming as this dictates the likely type of weather to be experienced in the coming hours. Another factor associated with wind speed that occurs in winter is wind chill and for this the speed over a period of time is a major factor.

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