Building Your Own Weather Station - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Building Your Own Weather Station

Question:

I want to put a weather station on my building in Morgan City. I'm going to connect it to my web page. What top of the line station would you suggest? I'm even putting cameras on the roof for traffic and lake conditions.

Answer:

"Top of the line" can get VERY top ... and very pricey!! The network of weather stations that I supervise for LSU run over $10K for each site!! Now getting into the realm of manageable, a extremely-high quality at-home system can easily top $1000 ... and could quickly climb into the couple-to-few thousand dollar zone.

My suggestion - start with a dollar budget first (how much are you willing to spend) ... then go web-fishing for prices from there. In fact ... before starting the web-tour - decide what elements you want to measure (rain, temp & wind - usually in that order - are the mainstay elements ... but there is humidity/dewpoint to consider, and some folks like to collect solar radiation, indoor & outdoor temps - you can even buy lightning detection add-ons!

Keep in mind that Mother Nature can be VERY tough on weather stations -- LSU loses nearly 1 station per year, on average, due to lightning strikes. And extreme winds can take out a good system in a flash.

Also ... be thinking about "recurring costs" - the potential for having to replace one or more sensors every couple of years. Too many people think that weather stations are "buy it, set it & forget it" systems. In other words, they like to think that once they buy a system it will run "forever." But remember, these are "precision instruments" that need a little maintenance from time to time ... and just like the family car ... they do wear out and require replacements, upgrades, etc.

Now .. about putting a weather station on your building ... actually that is a "no no" as well - at least for the purist. Sometimes a roof-mounted system is the only realistic option, but roof-mounted rain gauges tend to under-catch, roof-mounted thermometers tend to run "hot", and roof-mounted wind sensors are subject to so many complications that ... well ... I could write a couple of pages on that.

So ... while you're strategizing about the damage to your bank account ... also consider "open space, ground-level" placement options.

Just a few thoughts ... too many? ... for you to ponder.

Jay Grymes
Chief Meteorologist
WAFB Storm Team

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