Weather Station

Any scientific investigation requires data. Having more data points of higher resolution produces a more thorough and meaningful result. Perhaps you are familiar with the example of the blindfolded men trying to discover an elephant. One man feels the elephant’s trunk and thinks it is a snake. Another feels its leg and thinks it is a tree, and the third feels the tail and thinks it is a rope. Science is much the same way – adding more data points often produces a new conclusion, or helps reveal details or clues to processes and phenomena.

I mentioned previously that the Maricopa County Flood Control District receives data from many neighborhood rain gauges. In years past, a single weather station in each city and town recorded the official weather. Having such few weather stations limited what information could be gleaned from the data. When the weather stations in each town are far apart, considerable interpretation is needed to understand what is happening between stations. Neighborhood gauges help fill holes in the data map and allow for a more thorough understanding of a rain event. From the flood control district’s standpoint, having such a network of rain gauges helps them know how much rain is falling in certain areas, and manage storm water accordingly.

This weather station is at Osborn and 64th St in Scottsdale, ID #4605. Real-time data from this station is available from the Flood Control District’s website, and is free to the general public. Amateur weather watchers and other scientific entities can use this data to satisfy their curiosities or for their own studies. Automated data loggers record more than just weather. Real-time information about stream discharge, groundwater data, and even traffic is available in many areas.

Even with an expanded network of rain gauges, some studies require even higher resolution or an accurate measurement in a location that is too far from the nearest gauge. A former colleague of mine once used a simple data logging gauge similar to this one from Ben Meadows because knowing the exact rainfall amount in his study area was important. In his case, he wanted to know the effects of rainfall upon erosion for his particular study area, and the 3-mile difference in rainfall between the nearest gauge and his study area would have invalidated his conclusions.

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3 Responses to Weather Station

  1. Dave says:

    The weather station in your post is known as an ALERT site. The data logger used can be one of several manufacturers (HydroLynx, OneRain or High Sierra Electronics). The main usage of the site is to report weather conditions in real-time. Other uses are deployments to measure water levels. The main focus for the water measurement end is for recording stage levels during a flood event. Never heard of ALERT sites being used for making accurate flow measurements using established discharge tables. The focus on the water level measurement is to make an assessment of flooding down stream from the gage.

    On the subject of Data Loggers. You have different levels of quality associated with them. Your link to Ben Meadows (Hobo) is what I would consider an entry level logger. Normally they’re inexpensive but limited in usability/supportability. In hydrological data collection, normally federal agencies use data loggers from Campbell Scientific, Design Analysis, Stevens or Sutron. Federal agencies normally adhere to the standards designated by the USGS HIF for water level/flow sensing. NOAA gives the guidelines for the weather sensing.


    • That’s cool info. Do you know anything about the SNOTEL recorders that measure snow depth?

      • Dave says:

        Sorry, I haven’t supported SNOTEL directly but can give you an answer to some extent.

        I think the nature of the question was measuring snow depth? To be more precise, it is not the depth but more the weight of the level of snow. Think the amount of water in a layer of ‘wet’ vs ‘dry’ snow. A link to the sensing elements: will give you an idea of the sensing required.

        About the sites themselves, NOAA usually provides the data from SNOTEL sites. The place to look is the NOAA River Forecast Center.

        My guess is that NOAA uses Campbell Scientific Data Loggers in their deployments . I would guess CR10X as the model used on older sites. Campbell is now favoring the CR800 data logger for HydroMet apps. Newer sites probably have this data logger. Telemetry is usually by GOES satellite.

        I hope you got something out of this 3rd party answer.


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