Ever since I realized that the National Weather Service at our local airport under-reported both the lows and the highs at our first house, ever since I discovered we were a lot more likely to have frost than our region at large, I’ve wanted to track the weather in my yard, the uber-local weather. For years–before we had internet–I was happy to have a wireless, electronic max-min thermometer, such as the one pictured at left.
Then I discovered that ordinary, regular people (not just meteorologists) could have a weather station deemed accurate enough to upload its data to the internet for the general public to view–on WeatherUnderground’s Personal Weather Station Network. You could prove to the whole world that you did indeed have frost when the NWS said it would only get down to 42°F (5.5°C)!
I wanted one that could do that–oh, it would be so cool!–but when I started shopping around, I just couldn’t justify spending the money. After all, the thermometer I had, a simple rain gauge, and a notebook to record the info would give me a good sense of when the last frost occurred in spring, when the first one occurred in fall, and whether we were overdue for a good rain–which was all I needed to plan when various tasks needed to be done in the garden.
Really? A Weather Station? For Me?
When AcuRite contacted me earlier this month offering to send me their top-of-the-line weather station, I was dumbfounded. I had to read the email several times and visit their website before I could really believe it was true and reply back. Then I did a little skip and a jump and walked around with a goofy grin for the rest of the day. Sheesh.
Where should I set it up?
While I was waiting for my weather station to come, I downloaded the manuals and looked them over. I also found information from NOAA on siting the sensors so they give the most accurate information .Here’s the thing: the specifications for the most accurate temperature recording are quite a bit different than the specs for the most accurate wind speed and direction recording–and all of those sensors are located on the same device, AcuRite’s 5-in-1 PRO Weather Sensor. For accurate temperature and humidity recording, the sensor needs to be:
- between 4 and 6.5 feet (1.2 to 2.0 meters) off the ground
- on open level ground at least 30 feet (9 meters) in diameter
- away from any obstruction for a distance of 4 times the height of the obstruction
However, for the best wind measurements, the sensor should be
- 30 – 33 feet (9 – 10 meters) above the ground
- away from any obstruction for a distance of ten times the height of an obstruction
And the rain gauge should be in a location with no overhead obstructions (Duh! How else would the rain get in?) and protected from wind. It’s clear that when all the sensors are attached to one device, compromises must be made. I knew that temperature would be the most important factor for gardening in my climate, so I went outside to see where the best spot would be to optimize that measurement.I thought 100 ft from the ash tree was a good compromise, but I really didn’t want to have a pole stuck in the middle of the yard. In the end, I decided to set it up at the corner of the kitchen garden, marked with an X.
Here’s how we did it
I had already put batteries in the weather station and the display, and I knew that the indoor display was successfully receiving the data from the weather station sensors. I asked my son Rundy to help me get the weather station set up in its permanent location. I bought a 4″x4″x8′ pressure treated post and a 30″ post spike similar to the one pictured at right.As it turned out, he hit a rock and so moved to the other side of the corner stone. Since I wanted the station about six feet off the ground, Rundy cut two feet off the eight foot post. Next he screwed the weather station’s mounting base into the post. (There is no photo of this step because I had to hold the mounting base in place while he operated the drill.) The mounting bracket has a pole that you slip the weather station onto. It moves freely on this pole so that you can turn it so that the solar panels face south. We made sure the whole set-up was level by using the little bubble level on the top of the weather station, ensuring that the rain gauge would measure precipitation accurately.
Now to connect…
I now had a functioning weather station, but it wasn’t yet connected to the internet. To accomplish that, I needed to get the internet bridge hooked up to our router, a simple matter of plugging in the provided cord and waiting. The internet bridge gets the data from the weather station, and uploads it to MyAcuRite.com. It’s at this website where you can read the full array of data that the weather sensors are measuring, which includes a lot of information that is not on the indoor display. For example, if you want to know what today’s high temperature was, you have to either go to the website or access the same information with the smartphone app.
Yahoo! My Own Personal Weather Station!
The final step was to sign up for a personal weather station at Weather Underground, following the directions in the manual. My weather station is KNYOXFOR9, one of several in my county. I guess I’m not the only weather nerd in this part of rural NY.
I have to admit, when I opened up the box and found several smaller boxes inside, each with an instruction manual, I felt pretty intimidated. Fortunately, my excitement overcame my fear, because it was really pretty easy to set up. In fact, I found the indoor display easier to use than the LaCrosse max-min that we’ve had for ages. The hardest part was figuring out where to put the outdoor sensor unit, and that was because I’m picky that way. If you look at where other people put their stations, you’ll see most folks are not nearly so picky and are very happy with their weather station.
Who else out there has a weather station? How do you like it? And who else wants one?
Update: For reviews of the latest models of home weather stations, visit WxObservation.com.
AcuRite offered me my choice of products from their site in exchange for participating in their case study, which involved providing them with a few paragraphs telling them how I used their products to help improve my everyday decisions and activities, especially as they relate to gardening. They did not ask me to write this blog post; that was my own idea. Also, Cold Climate Gardening is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. If you buy something from Amazon after clicking there through my site, I earn a small commission. The links to AcuRite earn me a commission from them.