Posted by Michele Redmon ● May, 2020
Who needs a home weather system?
A home weather station (also referred to as a personal or residential weather station) is a weather measurement tool operated by a private individual. The home weather station isn’t a new idea, but recent innovations have resulted in more feature-stuffed models compared to what was available even just a few years ago. If you are completely content looking out the window, or checking the weather app that came with your phone, that's wonderful! You may not need to invest in a home weather system. However, if you think that home weather stations are just for weather geeks, think again. Even casual weather observers can benefit from this handy piece of technology.
Do you go outside?
This might sound like a joke given global crisis we're in, but most of us still do go outside, whether to walk, run, bike, or garden. Maybe just to get a breath of fresh air between conference calls. If you like spending time outdoors, it’s helpful to know what the weather is going to bring on any given day. For example, if your weather app calls for a 70% chance of rain at 2pm, what does that actually mean? Depending on the app, not much. It could start raining at 11am or not at all. The forecast you're seeing is just an estimation based on models pulling weather data from miles away from your location.
With an advanced home weather system, the weather data being processed through the models is pulled from your backyard, improving the accuracy of your forecast. (Keep in mind that not every weather station actually does this. Many provide your weather conditions but a forecast from a third party that does not use your data at all.)
Do you live in an area prone to wildfires?
If firefighters could predict how a wildfire was going to spread, they would be better able to contain it quickly and safely. But despite great strides in the computer modeling used to forecast wildfires, because of unexpected wind shifts or spontaneous acceleration, they remain a catastrophic force that takes lives and decimates communities. Researchers need more data on how real fires spread and interact with their environment, which is where a weather station would be extremely valuable. For homeowners tracking the spread of a fire, a weather station with the ability to report wind direction and speed could provide a great deal of clarity as to the possible path of an approaching fire.
“In many cases, there haven’t been weather stations in close enough proximity to these fires to get a really good handle on what the conditions are actually like on the ground. We are essentially poking around in the dark.” - Professor Danial Swain, UCLA, discussing recent wildfires in California.
Do you own a home?
A friend recently sent me a photo of something she’d found while tending to the yard of her rental home. “What is this??” It was a weather station, which she discovered was integrated with her home’s Nest thermostat, controlling the heating and cooling, as well as the sprinkler system. The owners of the home explained that it resulted in significant savings for them, while ensuring that renters were always comfortable. Whether you’re adding a weather system to your own home or a second property, having access to real-time weather conditions can help keep water and energy use in check, and help you prepare for severe weather events.
Do you live in a microclimate?
Here in the redwood forests of the Santa Cruz mountains, the weather looks very different than that five miles inland, or five miles to the coast. The trees create a natural barrier, so temperatures are often as much as ten degrees cooler than that in downtown Santa Cruz, just a few miles away. My location also frequently experiences heavy fog, when a short run towards the beach reveals a bright and sunny day. Simply put, the forecasts on the local weather channel or in the typical weather app are not particularly helpful to me. With a Tempest right outside, my precise weather conditions are fed into the forecasting model, ensuring unrivaled accuracy. (Plus, a lot of people think it’s a security camera, so it’s a win-win!)
Do you like weather data?
This is a no-brainer. If you like seeing weather data from your home, a good weather system is an absolute delight. Maybe you’re the kind of person who enjoys tracking the path of a storm, or you’d like to share graphs on your website or social media accounts showing dramatic temperature fluxuations as a record cold front moves in. Generally speaking, most people like information, whether it’s from a watch that reports your daily steps, heart rate, and sleep quality, or a weather system that reports temperature, UV index, and lightning. However, those who really like weather data are a discerning bunch, and have high standards when it comes to the quality of data they receive. So if you're shopping for someone like this, be warned: Not any weather station will do.
Choosing a Home Weather Station
Like any purchase, do your homework. Always check the return policy and warranty terms. Read reviews, paying particularly close attention to those involving customer support, since the last thing you want is to be left hanging when you need help with your weather system. Find out if the company making the system has any in-house forecasting or modeling capabilities. Do a quick web search to determine how active the station owners community is, if there is one (a forum, for example). It’s always nice to have a pool of people with which to exchange tips, ideas, and wild weather events.
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