Like most outdoor people, we cyclists are pretty much obsessed with the weather. Throughout the week I keep an eye on the forecasts and plan rides around the direction the wind is blowing. Although I’m no fair weather merchant, it’s always sensible to be aware of the prevailing conditions. It was for this reason that I was delighted to discover an amateur weather station was operating locally to Brownhills, just over the A5 in Hammerwich.
After coming to my attention in the summer, I’ve been following @ws7weather avidly. Every morning, Kevin Jones broacasts his readings and a brief outlook to twitter and to his blog, often with an accompanying photograph. If there’s one thing I love, it’s amateur science, and I thought it would be good to get Kevin to write a bit about what he does, why he does it and to explain the inner workings of the meteorological mindset. Kevin graciously agreed, and I pressent his article below.
Like a lot of people in the UK I am fascinated by our climate and weather patterns and have been from a very early age.
My earliest memory is being taken up to school to collect my brother during the winter of 1963. The local people had cleared the snow from some of the pathways and the mounds that were created in the gutters were taller than me. I can also vividly recall the hot summer of 1976 when the country was hit by over a month without rain; many days the temperature was in the high 20s and low 30s centigrade and the cricket pitches were all bleached white.
I cannot recall a day when I have not listened to the weather forecast as religiously as the news – in short the weather has always been a fascination to me.
Two Christmases ago my wife gave me an Acctim 71233X weather station as a present. (www.acctim.com) The station connects wirelessly to remote temperature sensors, an anemometer (for wind speed) and a rain fall gauge. The equipment also records barometric pressure and internal temperatures. Since then I have added other instrumentation from Oregon Instrumentation which includes temperature gauges, a second rainfall gauge and an instrument that measure the relative humidity. The plan is to upgrade all of the equipment so that it can be web based and active at all times. Ironically, this is in IT talk called cloud based technology!
As well my own instrumentation I also view the radar and satellite imagery that is available via subscription via the web before making my forecasts.
From the first set of equipment, however, the bug was set. I soon joined the Royal Meteorological Society (RMets) as a member and began logging my weather observations in a log book. In May of 2010 I decided to start recording my findings on a blog site and have recently started to include local images of the weather too. http://hammerwich-weather.spaces.live.com
It was following the launch of my website that I decided to put together some short reports each day on Twitter (@ws7weather). Whilst my followers are few, I am happy that the majority of them are local people and, therefore, the information is more relevant. It should be noted that I do not solely rely on my own instrumentation but that I also subscribe to satellite imagery websites. (My wife will not let me build my own satellite!). On these sites I am able to see the clouds and with some of the images see if they contain any rain that could fall on us. I am able to pinpoint our area and, hopefully, be a little more accurate than most forecasts that cover many hundred square miles.
More recently I have joined the RMets Weather Club. This is aimed at the amateur weather observer and at present the members (me included) are taking part in a one month exercise of recording onto a database rain and temperature readings throughout the country. Each morning I am set, camera in hand, to record the cloud formations and then upload the image onto the site. Anyone can view the records at http://www.theweatherclub.org.uk/
Living on the outskirts of the countryside I am very aware that the weather plays on in the local community. The local cricket and bowls teams crave good weather to fulfil their matches whilst the farmers recently worked hard through many days and nights to bring in the harvest whilst it remained dry. Two days later we had a prolonged spell of rain – the farmers had planned well. In the spring the farms prefer good weather for the lambing season but also some rain and sunshine to get the crops off to a healthy start.
The change in weather and seasons also bring with it the changes in flora and fauna and I also like to record some of the unusual things I come across, particularly fungi. My children think I am “sad” tramping in woods to see if I can find a beefsteak fungus or even a common inkcap. They are all interesting to me and in their prevalence at this time of year.
I’d just like to thank Kevin, both for his steadfast meteorological reporting, and for his fascinating contribution to the Brownhills Blog. It’s nice to see people with such expert hobbies, and I salute the doggedness and rigour of the output from the Hammerwich Weather Station. I’m sure readers will join with me in wishing Kevin all the best. Rest assured, old chap, we don’t think you’re sad at all…
If any other readers have any engaging hobbies or interests and would like to share them with readers here, please do drop me a mail. That’s BrownhillsBob at Googlemail.com – cheers.