Monday, March 30, 2020

Guest Blog from a WOW Observer

For as long as I can remember I have had a keen interest in the weather, and, since studying it at university and working for the Met Office for over a decade, meteorology has been huge part of my life. One facet of meteorology I am particularly interested in is statistics: how much rain did we have last month? How many frosts did we have this winter? When did we last have a temperature that high? – the questions are endless. And so when I was gifted a weather station by my wife around 5 years ago now, I saw it as a great opportunity to begin keeping my own records.

My set-up at home is probably quite complex by most people’s standards, but with a bit of time and effort (and money) is relatively straightforward to achieve. I have an Aercus WS3083 which contains a number of instruments connected to a transmitter via RJ11/RJ12 cables, and the wireless transmitter sends the data to a console which resides indoors. 

One issue I have is that my relatively sheltered back garden isn’t really suitably exposed in order to provide gold standard measurements of wind or sunshine, but it is representative of a back garden on the edge of a moderate sized town. So I have made some modifications to it by extending the cables in order to optimally position the various instruments, and the wind/sunshine sensors are currently mounted on a 10ft cranked pole which will eventually be sited on the gable end of my house, at a standard and well exposed 10 metres. I just haven’t found a way of getting it up there yet!

The console indoors is connected to a mini PC, which is always on and permanently connected to the internet. This runs a fantastic piece of software called Cumulus, which interrogates and logs the data from the console at 1-minute intervals. Whilst it does take a little bit of setting up, Cumulus is extremely powerful, and amongst many other things it can upload data to WOW provided you have registered your site and have a WOW account. As a meteorologist by trade, I know the real value that observations and ground truth can have (when viewed with appropriate caution of course!), and the dense network of observations provided by WOW can be really handy when looking at the weather at a local level. So I am happy to think that my observation is contributing to that enhanced data coverage which can be used by local weather enthusiasts and meteorologists alike.

 As well as WOW, Cumulus generates content for a number of webpages I run, including real-time readouts of the 1-minute data, sends me e-mails with daily reports and even generates a text file which can be picked up by an app on my phone so the latest observation is always to hand when I need it. And whilst it’s the statistics that interest me the most, the value to the rest of my family of knowing what the outside temperature is in order to plan what to wear cannot be understated!

Note from the WOW team: We are always interested to add to the list of useful third party software on our support pages. Share your experiences in the comments below to help other users link up with WOW!