One of my fondest memories growing up was playing “weather-watchers” in a giant rock pile with my two youngest sisters. We would typically dig out seats in the rocks, and invent various devices for our measurements during the dog days of summer. I have been attached to weather about as long as I can remember come to think of it. Vacations to me were often more about experiencing weather outside of what I had come to know as ‘normal’ than about the destinations. I can’t remember much about Gettysburg during my trip to D.C. when I was 6 but I do remember the bliss of experiencing fall in the hills of Maryland. Cloudcroft, NM., one of my favorite places on Earth, was one of our vacation stops during our monsoon season vacation to the four corners area. I saw the Grand Canyon, the Painted Dessert, Pikes Peak, Moab, many old volcanoes and lava flows, the Petrified Forest, and and White Sands New Mexico, and yet my most vivid memory was sleeping in the cold clouds there. I suppose I haven’t changed much since. I loved Chicago for the weather, loved Kabul for the weather, and hated San Diego for the weather. For a good part of the year I sit around romanticizing about the first violent cold front that blew through the previous fall.
Last June I stumbled across information pertaining to Citizens Weather Observer Program on the NOAA site. I emailed one of the CWOP representatives and was quite satisfied to learn that many of the recommended personal weather stations only ran a few hundred dollars. From that day on I planned on buying a weather station. The only problem I had was location. Personal weather station siting is a complicated give-and-take process. No matter where I considered installing the PWS I would inevitably sacrifice wind, rain, and/or temperature reading accuracy. At some point of time I developed the pizza-pie in the sky idea of building a large second story deck and installing a door in the office. Not only would I have an amazing northerly view of approaching storms, but I would have a fairly descent site for the weather station. A coworker of mine put me in contact with a carpenter he knew, and the project was on its way.
One of the agreements in our contract was that I would be required to provide the door. I called my dad a couple of days before the install was scheduled to be completed and convinced him to take a trip with me to Lowe’s and Home Depot (he has experience with this sort of thing). For the life of me I could not decide what I wanted. Every door I looked at was either too expensive or just too bland. Quite accidentally, I stumbled across a beautiful set of french doors that were on sale. They were significantly more than we had budgeted for doors and we would have to pay our carpenter more to install them but they would look so much better than the single doors we were considering purchasing. I spoke with Laura about it in detail and rambled off “property value something something” and was soon on my way home. All said and done the project turned out wonderfully. The deck offers an amazing view since we sit up on a hill, and any other door selection would have been a huge mistake.
So everything was set and in place for me to purchase my weather station. As luck would have it Ambient Weather was having a sale on their Davis – Vantage Vue stations at the time. I was reluctant to commit to using Windows software as I have become entirely dependent on Debian Linux as my OS workhorse. The Ambient tech peeps informed me that I really didn’t have much of a choice other than developing the software myself for a Linux OS. I reluctantly purchased a Vantage Vue with Ambient’s weather logging software and a linking package. The packaged arrived in the mail a few days later.
Installing the station itself was surprisingly painless. The software on the other hand was was on par for government based free-handed software. The first thing I noticed was just how busy the UI was. There cannot be any less than a hundred operations a user can perform from the main menu. Wow. I also had to register myself in the CWOP program to obtain a amateur radio designator “DW5138”, and I registered my station with Weather Underground. For those that are considering purchasing a weather station, I would highly recommend an IP version if it is available for the model of your liking. I have already lost about 5 days worth of connectivity, etc due to Windows 7 wanting to restart every time it farts or installs an update. I am currently planning/pricing installation of a decent weathercam. I will include pictures and information pertaining to that adventure in the future.
**UPDATE** My weather station is now tied to the 80919 zip code (no longer the MADIS station).