Category Archives: Weather Station

Posts about the weather station I ran while living downtown from June 2006 – May 2008.

Yep, I’m Moving

After four great, unforgettable years living downtown, I’m going to be moving deep into the heart of West Ashley to a one-bedroom place near the river. My last day down here is May 31; I’ll be relocating briefly with the parental units to the Creek for a few days while I wait for my new apartment to open up.

This likely doesn’t matter to most people, except for those who follow my weather station closely. I hate it, but the weather station will be ceasing operations Thursday afternoon for the foreseeable future, and for good in that location. It’s been a fantastic experience providing conditions from my backyard for two years, but the reality of my situation — moving to a complex — dictates that the station can’t continue for now. Perhaps in the future, when I own something and will be firmly entrenched in it, will I be able to restart operations. I may have located a foster home for the station, though — more details to be announced later.

My focus on user-generated weather content is changing. I’m now focusing on what can be done with streaming media and interactivity; I’m already doing some of that now at Ustream and, when it’s up, Twitter. Both ventures have been pretty successful so far. I’m going to expand on that soon and probably spin weather off from here into its own domain as time goes on, more than likely. Stay tuned — it’s going to get really hardcore soon, especially with hurricane season knocking on the door.

It’s going to be weird, though, not knowing what the exact temperature is at my house at any given time. I’ve gotten so, so, so used to that over the years…and now I won’t have it anymore. Here’s hoping someone takes the torch and runs with it.

Who needs The Weather Channel when you have Ustream?

Tonight a bunch of people and I learned, once again, the power of the Internet. A storm became unexpectedly severe and plowed its way through Dorchester and Berkeley counties this evening. I went live on a Charleston weather-themed Ustream channel with the SuperDeeDooperDoppler and, for over two hours, was able to give a rundown of what the storm was doing at a particular time and was able to get people to safety when the storm was at its worst, whether it was spewing 60+ MPH gusts in downtown Summerville or chucking golf-ball size hail in Ridgeville. I was able to get feedback in real time in the chat room that Ustream supplied, and that part rocked most of all. One-way weather broadcasts from television don’t give anybody that kind of luxury at all, especially when the storm knocks television out. People were able to relay their reports in real-time and that was excellent. In a way, I’m hoping it stays clear for a bit — two hours of wall-to-wall is probably enough after a long day at work. :) It just felt good to be able to help people.

Imagine what I would have done with Ustream during Ernesto in August 2006, when I live-blogged for three days every advisory that came down with predictions and such. A part of me almost can’t wait for another storm now!

This summer I’m looking to significantly expand my weather outlet, to the point where it will likely be spun off from this site under its own domain. One of the pieces of this is somewhat in play now as I’ve created a Charleston Weather Twitter account to relay conditions, forecasts, and advisories. I wouldn’t rely on it for timeliness right now, though — it’s using Twitterfeed to shoot the information through, so there is a giant delay between checking feeds. I still need to write a proper bot for it, which I’m hoping to tackle this month. The Ustream channel is another piece of the puzzle. I plan to offer up some sort of rotating feature with radar and other things once I can find a box to dedicate to it. I will also use the Ustream channel for periodic weather reports as well as coverage during severe weather situations.

Sadly, the most obvious piece of the puzzle, my weather station, won’t be around much longer. I’m moving in a few weeks, which will force me to end my station downtown after two fantastic years. I’m not sure if I will bring it up yet in my new location (likely to be west of the Ashley), so my backyard conditions may come to an end. However, there are other stations out there, and I’m not overly concerned with taking mine down knowing that others will be able to spring up in my place.

I wanted to write more about my setup here, but I’m getting pretty tired; that will be for a later post.

I’m not sure what I’m on to here, but I can’t help but think it’s a good thing that will enhance weather awareness and, more importantly, explore how the social media space can be used to disseminate important information in an interactive manner.

Limited weather reporting for a couple days

A large tree branch decided that I needed a break from reporting weather from my station for a few days, falling on my anemometer during a storm today and taking it out. Worse, the nose is broken off of it. The nose has a weight in it, which keeps the anemometer right on track. It was reasonable to replace, so I went ahead and ordered a new one. Therefore, don’t expect much from my station for the next few days. It’ll be a good chance to do maintenance on that machine anyway. I should be back reporting by next week.

Weather station update

So among the casualties of the severe weather today were apparently Nightwind’s serial ports — I came home to find that everything had rebooted, but Nightwind was unable to communicate with the station at all. After trying a few things — including resetting the station — I moved the console to healer for testing and found it picked up pretty much immediately. I moved it back to Nightwind and it was receiving corrupt data — no good. The hilarious thing is that healer — the crappy Dimension that I railed against not more than three posts ago — is now running the station flawlessly, with no phantom windspeed readings or anything. Go figure, right? I hate it for to happen this way, but it’s nice seeing my original plan carried out. :) So, Nightwind will rejoin the other servers, and the much quieter healer will be sitting relaying the conditions to Wunderground and AWEKAS. (It also will continue to serve as a backup domain controller and DNS box.)

Regular commenter NotMyBest2Day passed along a radar composite of the storms exploding over Charleston today. It takes a bit of time to load, but it’s worth it to see all the energy move ashore. This one really reminded me of the disturbance that dropped all that rain and that extreme lightning over downtown last August.

The forecast is more of the same for tomorrow, from that disturbance that’s still sitting offshore. Let’s hope it winds down by the weekend!

A full list of personal weather stations around the Lowcountry

I’m not the only game in town when it comes to weather stations in the Lowcountry. Here’s a full list of stations hosted by Weather Underground. In particular, pay attention to the Seabrook Island stations, and the Big Red Barn, one of the many places to get a carriage tour on Market Street. It’s interesting to contrast the weather being experienced on the eastern side of the peninsula versus my more western perspective.

Monitor live conditions from my backyard

As many of you know, I operate a weather station which reports current weather conditions to Weather Underground. I recently did a few software upgrades to permit nearly real-time information upload to the station, and I invite you to follow along as Ernesto approaches. Click here to launch the live conditions window. There’s also a link to the live conditions just above the “Recent Entries” heading on the blog homepage. Alternatively, you can visit weather.jaredwsmith.com and launch the window from there. Yeah, lots of possibilities. :)

Whew. What a day.

It’s been a heck of a day. Right now, at the time of this writing, Ashley Ave. heading toward Calhoun is still flooded — not quite to the degree of earlier, but it’s still largely underwater. I may get a couple more pics before the sun goes down.

Best news of all — the station’s back operational. The submerging of the wiring seemed to cause major problems, and I’ll have to reinforce the shielding of the wires for next time.

I’m wet and cold still. My feet will never forgive me.

More weather station updates

Today was a nice, cool, rainy day, so what else to do but work on my weather station?

After further review, I decided not to use Virtual Weather Station. It’s a very good program, but for my particular hardware (the La Crosse WS-2315), it wasn’t good enough. I’d miss up to six updates from the station until an update made it to the Weather Underground server. This was true when I was using the Linux box, and also turned out to be true with VWS, even when doing tweaks to the communication frequency and enabling Rapid Fire every two seconds.

I discovered a great freeware called Weather Underground/Heavy Weather Uploader. It primarily uses the Heavy Weather software supplied to interface with the La Crosse console to upload the data to Weather Underground. This happens very infrequently, though. Recent versions of WUHU (as it’s abbreviated) also permits one to interface directly with the La Crosse console, bypassing the Heavy Weather software altogether. This gives me the results I want — when the station receives new data, the Uploader transmits new data to Weather Underground, and updates it. It truly is real-time, now, and a vast improvement. My only complaint is that the current iteration of WUHU does not transmit exact wind speed/gust data; instead, it rounds it up to the nearest whole number; WTF? I want at least one decimal point of precision. I hope they fix this. Other than that though, this thing is really rocking.

In any event, I decided to quickly do up a teaser page for weather.jaredwsmith.com, the latest in a long line of subdomains hanging off jaredwsmith.com. It offers a quick link to the Rapid Fire page that Weather Underground provides for real-time stations such as mine. On the long-term radar (pun not intended) is a PHP METAR parser of some kind so I can generate my own conditions page, among other things, so weather.jaredwsmith.com won’t be a teaser page with deprecated HTML forever. ;)

By the way, the temperatures today were amazing, and at one point, I had over an inch of rain in an hour — a nice, soaking rain. And a “high” of 75 was a great change of pace from 100+ degree heat!

In any event, if you’re in Charleston, please pass the word around about weather.jwsdotcom — I hope to turn this into something really cool soon.