An Introduction To Weather Station Features
Predicting the weather by observing weather conditions has been an important aspect of daily life throughout history. For example, ancient sailors and farmers had many practical rules associating clouds with weather, allowing them to make reasonably accurate short-term forecasts. But it was not until the invention of weather instruments (1400-1900), and the setting of standards for weather measurement tools, that meteorology was able to evolve into a scientific discipline.
With the technological advances of recent years, keeping an eye on local weather conditions using your own state-of-the-art electronic weather station has never been more simple or affordable. Depending on desired features and accessories, weather stations can cost as little as $30 to as much as $3,000 or more. Available in either wireless or cabled versions, these highly accurate weather instruments have indoor consoles that can display a variety of weather conditions: temperature and humidity (both inside and out), atmospheric pressure, rain and snow, wind direction and speed, dew point, wind chill, and heat index - even solar and ultraviolet radiation, and soil temperature and moisture - all monitored within the comfort of your home. Many of the latest professional weather stations feature radio controlled clocks that reset themselves daily to the official U.S. government atomic clock located at Boulder, Colorado. And this equipment isn't just for tekkies; much of it is sophisticated enough for hardcore weather enthusiasts yet easy enough for rookies.
Cabled weather stations typically have an integrated sensor package, which is connected to the indoor console by means of a cable. The drawback is having to drill a hole in the wall to link the two, but cabled weather stations are usually less expensive than wireless home weather stations. Wireless home weather stations use radio signals (typically in the 433 MHz band) to transmit measurements from the weather sensors to the indoor display console, eliminating the need to string cable and drill holes. The maximum "unobstructed" (or "line of sight") range between the sensors and indoor console can vary between models, from 80 to 1000 feet. However, their "effective" range is determined by the building materials the signals must penetrate (walls, siding, roof structure, etc.) and possible sources of radio interference nearby. As a rule-of-thumb for a typical installation, the effective range is about a half to a third of the rated unobstructed range for wireless weather stations.
Electronic weather station sensors need to be placed or "sited" correctly to provide accurate measurements. Once the weather station set up is performed, sensors transmit their data to the indoor digital weather station console, which updates the display and records the readings at an interval set by the manufacturer. This interval may vary depending on the type of weather instrument (temperature, wind speed, rainfall, etc.) or may be fixed at one interval rate regardless of the type (every minute, every three minutes, etc.).
Some personal weather stations are capable of interfacing with a computer, either included as part of the package or available as an optional accessory. Computer weather equipment offer not only a display of current weather measurements on your computer monitor, but also provide for advanced data collection and graphical weather analysis. And with a dedicated internet connection, you can even post weather data to your own weather web page or become a part of the process by sharing your readings with the Citizen Weather Observer Program (CWOP), which forwards the information in a format that the National Weather Service can use. Visitors to the CWOP web site can view the weather station data from any of their member stations. Even if your weather station isn't connected to a computer, you can still participate as a volunteer Skywarn "spotter," providing your local NWS weather forecast office with important weather measurements and severe weather reports.
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