Friday, January 14, 2011

How's the Weather in Your Neighborhood?

As the old joke goes, "Everyone likes to complain about the weather but nobody does anything about it."  Well now you can do something about it, or at least get involved with measuring it.

The Citizen Weather Observing Program (CWOP) is a partnership between the U.S. Government (NOAA) and the public to collect local weather data and feed it into national weather maps.   These are the temperature, rainfall, barometric pressure, and other readings necessary to track the weather, make accurate forecasts, and validate readings taken by satellite. 

Currently there are over three thousand users participating in this project and you can be one of them too.  Although the CWOP project began life as a HAM radio project but is now online and collecting electronic data through the internet.   So now anybody can take part.

Getting started is easy:
  • Find a good weather observing site around your house or apartment that's representative of the area and free from any obstructions.
  • Purchase (or dare to build) a weather station compatible with AWRS data logging software.  This means that it can record and store data in the format used by CWOP.  I don't want to recommend any specific company or equipment, but a couple you may be interested in include:
  • Set-up your weather station per the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Set-up your personal computer to collect data from the weather station -- either wirelessly or through a USB connection.
  • Obtain an account from CWOP Registration Form by providing your name, address, nearby town, and elevation.
  • Connect your computer and weather station to the CWOP data system.  There are many different ways to do this depending on the weather station and software you are using.  Some will be easy, some are more complex to set-up.  But detailed instructions for many different programs can be found here.
  • If you have any problems with the set-up I recommend reviewing either the CWOP Guide or the CWOP Technical Information Page for more detailed information and links to even more (much much more) technical assistance.
  • Sit back, watch the weather data flow in, and have fun!
Now I will admit that these instructions may seem a bit over-simplified, and depending on how much weather data you want to collect this can get quite involved.  But it doesn't have to.  Stick with popular equipment brands and software and much of the work will be done for you.  Once you've mastered the simple level you can move up to more complex levels of involvement.

In the future we will dive even deeper with more detailed advice and recommendations for you.  But don't let that stop you from getting involved now!

1 comment:

  1. Is that useful measuring wind temperature? Actually I'm finding an online weather shop from where I can get quality portable wind meters for our cold storage business.