Weather Matters

Man Your Weather Stations!

By J.E. Szech

               The area around the basement door is wet. Again.  It’s a familiar tale in northern Anne Arundel County.  The basement is waterproofed but the tiniest of drains in the basement stairwell is clogged with leaves, or lint, or whatever critter has decided to make a home for the season.  Sure I could get one of those moisture alarms, which is fantastic if you’re home to hear it.  I guess I could install something that connects to my phone? Meh, I’m too connected as it is.  I finally decide my best bet is to start monitoring my own weather system in Linthicum.  I’ll miss you Bob Turk.  You’re moustachioed face and pleasant voice have guided me for years, but I’m going on my own.  I’m buying a home weather station.

               Full disclosure, for years my best friend has been a ‘weather nerd’.  I was relentless in my teasing him over the hours he would spend monitoring The Weather Channel.  He spoke of pressure systems and fronts. Millibars and knots. Accumulation. Oh yes! There will be accumulation!  I paid little attention, I wear shorts when its thirty degrees and I am not sure that I have ever owned an umbrella.  Who am I? The Penguin?  Something changed this winter though, maybe it was above average rainfall or the thought of being out of work for a few days shoveling snow, but I decided that weather was my new thing.

               Doing your research on a weather station is relatively easy.  I jumped on the web and quickly established a budget of $200.00.  Some home models can easily exceed $1500.00.  I’m looking to monitor the local storms, not send reports to NASA, but it is nice to know that upgrades are available.

               After weeks of in-depth research and discussions with other local weather aficionados, I decided on an Acu-Rite 01500 weather station.  It’s blue backlit screen offers a multitude of functions, is simple to operate, and even saves data that you can track through the year if you feel so inclined.  I mounted the receiver unit on a fence post in the back of my yard.  Placement is critical as the area should be free of overhead shade, and trees which could clog the rain collection cup. That’s right! You can measure your own rain!  My wife was not nearly excited as I was over this discovery, but she feigned excitement, so that I would leave her alone and go back outside.  The unit uses AA batteries to power the fan motor and transmit the data to the receiver inside your home.  Once connected your system will go through a two week learning period that calibrates and adjusts to the environment.

               Most home units are transmitting data using your home’s Wi-Fi connection.  What made the system so appealing was the fact that I could purchase a bridge unit from Acu-Rite that allowed me to take the data from my backyard and send it directly to the site Weather Underground.  This crowdsourced weather service has allowed me to monitor the weather in Linthicum from my phone with accurate wind speeds, rain totals, and approaching storm cells.  On more than one occasion this more detailed forecast has given me the time to run home from work to make sure the basement was and stayed dry.

               The detailed readouts on falling and rising pressure systems have also been critical when making decisions about outdoor projects, as well as letting folks with sinus issues know when they may have a rough day ahead.  The Monitor also keeps tabs on the pressure, humidity and high and low temperatures in your home.  Installation is simple, and I was up and running in about thirty minutes.  Sure you can go to any website and get a weather report, but like home baked cookies, some things are just more fun when you do it yourself.  Within a few minutes of activating my Weather Underground account I received a text from my friend informing me of what I already knew…I was a weather nerd.  As we enter hurricane season, the weather watching should be interesting.  Check back to the LSIA Facebook page for updates and storm preparedness tips regarding incoming storms, I’ll continue to get the best information to you from Office of Emergency Management as well as the national Weather Service when the major storms rear their heads.  See you in the troposphere!