Davis Instruments Weather Club
In This Issue:
WEATHER STATIONS IN ACTION:
Vantage Pro2 and WeatherLinkIP Help Keep Boaters Safe in British Columbia
This Vantage Pro2 in Pender Harbour, British Columbia, Canada has quite a view. With WeatherLinkIP, it helps keep boaters in the area aware of current weather. That’s Pender Harbor and Texada Island in the distance. Unseen are the Straits of Malaspina right beside the Island and running north toward Alaska and south toward the San Juan Islands just below the Canada /US border.
Stewart Harrowing lives in, arguably, paradise. His home on the western edge of Canada is surrounded by gorgeous tree-studded islands and the blue Pacific. He is also an amateur radio operator up there in Pender Harbour, British Columbia, Canada. He helps run a VHF radio net, BC Boaters Net, with help from, of course, his Vantage Pro2.
“BC Boaters Net runs daily from June to September. Its purpose is to maintain contact with ham boaters cruising the coast from the San Juan Islands in the US to the Northern end of Vancouver Island. For transmission, we utilize a volunteer-operated repeater trunk system which joins repeaters from one end of the Island to the other. We keep track of boat movements and keep them appraised of local harbor area weather conditions as they travel and also enable them to maintain contact with family ashore in case of emergency. The system also allows us to assist in shipboard emergencies , if and when they occur. We also maintain a database of more than 600 boats.
“An important part of this program is the WeatherLinkIP software installed here in Pender Harbour with real time information and all ham US and Canadian boaters in the area have been made aware of the URL.”
“At the peak of the season, we have approximately 30-35 boats checking in daily and we talk to them through net controllers and keep track of them and advise them of local harbor area weather conditions, hazards, notices etc. This helps them with their travel plans. The URL is also bookmarked and displayed in the local Harbour Authority Office in Pender Harbour, so incoming boaters can look at it there. It has been well received as an additional local tool on a dangerous part of the BC coast.”
What a great use of WeatherLinkIP, Stew. Oh, and “73!” (Stew taught us that - “73” is ham talk for “best regards!”)
(Speaking of WeatherLinkIP, Jesse Ferrell added an in-depth review of the newest Davis product to his blog . "Part 2" of Jesse's review does a good job of summarizing WeatherLinkIP's features, and gives it a nice "thumbs up." Jesse is especially pleased with the fact that WeatherLinkIP did such a good job of transmitting wind gust data because the data packets are so frequent.)
Weather Check Quiz Question 1: How many boating deaths are reported annually in the United States?
A. About 10,000
B. About 8,000
C. About 5,000
D. About 3,000
E. About 1,000
Extra Credit: True or False: Small boat skippers are concerned about wave height. But the number of waves per second (wave period) doesn't make much difference.
(Click here for answers.)
Vantage Pro2 Gives a Hand to Scientists Working on Chemical Agent Sensor
Photo by Richard Whipple, used with permission.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists have a new assistant – a Vantage Pro2. Brad Hart, Tom Ratto and their colleagues are using the Vantage Pro2 in their efforts to create a compact, low-power sensor for detecting chemical agents. The weather station is attached to their prototype sensor to measure the effects of temperature, humidity and other environmental factors on the sensor.
To read more about this exciting work, put on your strong glasses, get out your “Glossary of Scientific Terms” and check out the article in Livermore Lab’s
Weather Check Quiz Question 2: Which of these are signs of a possible chemical threat?
A. People suffering from watery eyes, twitching, choking, difficulty breathing or losing coordination
B. Sick or dead birds, fish or small animals
C. Low-lying clouds, dust or fog unrelated to the weather
D. All of the above.
Extra Credit: True or False: Chemical weapons were used in World War II, specifically by Italy and Japan. (Click here for answers.)
Never Operate a Crane without Water and a Vantage Pro2
Phillip Witt sent us this photo of a Vantage Pro2 mounted on a support vehicle for Sullivan Crane and Rigging Company in Hobbs, New Mexico. We love its position of great importance, right next to the water cooler. (If we were ever asked to operate a crane, we’d really want to know what the wind is doing…)
Tulare Residents and Emergency Pros Both Benefit from Vantage Pro2 Plus
Residents of the city of Tulare, California, can get details of the current weather with the click of mouse. Their own Vantage Pro2 Plus is up and running and feeding data to their website.
The new weather station has been installed atop the city's Fire Station No. 1, and will help fire fighters handle hazardous material spills and wildfires.
What’s So Important About Air Pressure?
Pressure! We're under so much pressure! We Davis folks live down here at sea level and we really feel all the stacked up air above our heads pressing down on us. You high altitude people have it so easy!
Well, we might be being a little dramatic, but we are all being constantly pushed around by the invisible forces of atmospheric pressure. Atmospheric or air pressure is caused by the teeming molecules of our atmosphere that are constantly moving and bumping into each other and everything else, including our heads, each with a miniscule force. The closer you are to the earth's surface, the more tightly packed the molecules are, and therefore the more times you get bonked on the head by a molecule of air. In fact, right now, over the nine square inches of the top of our head, we are being bonked with about 132 pounds of pressure. No wonder we have a headache! (It's a good thing we were smart to enough to have equal pressure inside our heads as outside. The fact that we all "push back" makes us stay person-shaped despite all this pressure.)
Pounds per square inch is one way to express air pressure, but most weather buffs would want to know the pressure in millibars (mb), or inches of mercury (in. Hg). The amount of force exerted over an area of surface is called atmospheric pressure or air pressure. It decreases with altitude, rapidly at first, then more gradually. But air pressure is not determined only by altitude. Air temperature and air density also affect it. Warm a chunk of air (say, with a huge planet of hot gas) and the molecules will get busier and move faster and expand which means it becomes less dense, or lighter. And what will a lighter chunk of air do? It'll rise. (What is this called? Convection!) So what does a cooled chunk of air do? Righto, it sinks. Rising air therefore, leads to low pressure; sinking air leads to an area of low pressure.
But of course the atmosphere’s endless goal is to reach equilibrium, so air that is under higher pressure will move to an area with lower pressure. We call that wind! When there is a very large difference in pressure, the movement of air from higher to lower is going to be more powerful. Areas of higher and lower pressure are shown on weather maps as isobars. Isobars are lines connecting points of equal pressure, drawn at intervals of 4 mb. When isobars are closer together, you can predict stronger winds.
We measure air pressure with a barometer (the one in your Vantage Pro2, of course) expressed in "inches." This number, as well as the direction of change, is among the best forecasters of short term weather. Generally, higher pressure is associated with sinking air and fair weather, while low pressure usually means rising air and cloudy, wet weather. Steadily rising pressure means fair weather is on the way, steadily falling often means a storm is on the way. (Note that we said “generally!”)
Of all the numbers on your Vantage Pro2 console, the barometer might be the one that seems to change the least. But don't let that fool you - small changes in barometric pressure mean big changes in weather.
Weather Check Quiz Question 3: How much does all the air of earth weigh?
(Click here for answers.)
What’s In That Pot?
If Leon Snell of Cornwall, England, ever needs to find a new job, he could choose between landscape design, potter, and marriage counselor. Leon’s a weather buff so his wife bought him a Vantage Pro for his 70th birthday seven years ago. But she is a perfectionist when it comes to her garden and was not happy with the “techy” look of the rain collector in the middle of her perfect garden. The conflict of interest led to the poor, innocent Vantage Pro being locked up in a cupboard. But then Leon took charge of this volatile marital situation and came up with a novel solution.
“I hit on the idea of putting it in a pot! We emailed the pot manufacturer in Crete to see if it would do harm to drill the pot and they said ‘no problem.’ I made an upturned ‘U’ frame in stainless steel to stand the collector on. A concrete base supports the pot, which supports the frame. The cable goes underground to the house.
“She's completely happy about the set up and I'm getting my readings!”
We love your solution, Leon! While we find the rain collector to be a thing of absolute beauty, it does look very nice peeking out of that pot. Our Tech Team looked at Leon’s solution too, and gave him the stamp of approval. Leon has the edge of the collector just above the pot’s rim, so there is no problem with rain being splashed back into the collector. It’s also accessible for cleaning. Our meteorologist, Jason Karvelot, added that the pot might actually help a bit by reducing the turbulence of the rain around the collector, and thus the “undercatch.” (In high winds, the raindrops can tend to blow around the collector rather than inside.)
And it does look lovely! Well done, Leon.
More “We Laugh At Hurricanes” Davis Stations
We often get fan mail for our weather stations, and being the modest types, we enjoy them in house and try not to brag. But sometimes we just have to share with you.
Like these comments from David A. Smith of Stuart, Florida.
“I am the SKYWARN Coordinator of Martin County and worked all three hurricanes in '04 and '05, and I have two of Davis weather stations.
“Neither of my Davis stations were damaged one bit during 158 mph winds with Wilma in 2005 and 145 mph during Jeanne. My ham radio antennas went down, but the weather stations stayed up and never coughed once. Davis is the best there is. Even while the inside of my new house was getting torn apart due to rain and wind, the large cups on both stayed together and water never got inside the ‘boards.’ “In short, I have placed my life on two of them and I am here today partly because of my Vantage Pro and Vantage Pro2 weather stations.
“(By the way, I still have the original 3V battery in my original Vantage Pro and it still reads well on diagnostics.)”
Scared of Lightning? Don’t Look At This…?
Oooh, when Craig Huntsinger of Reading, Pennsylvania saw this photo, he knew just where to send it.
“It was taken on August 11, 2008,” writes Craig, “at about 7:35 A.M. from the Berks County 911 Center which is located on the 19th floor of the Berks County Courthouse in Reading, PA. The photographer was an employee on duty at the time. No reports of damage were received as a result of the strike.”
Yikes, we say.
Vantage Pro2s Make the News:
The Mathematician Meteorologist
Photograph by Thomas Simonetti, used with permission.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane?
No, it's Super Mathematician, Kevin TeBeest, checking out his Vantage Pro2 up on the roof in Burton, Michigan.
Kevin, a professor at Kettering University, has been a weather-lover since his teenage years chasing storms in South Dakota. In a story in the Flint Journal,
Kevin says he often assigns weather-related problems to his math students. "Clouds and atmosphere are a perfect example of fluid mechanics. It is nature in motion."
Check out Kevin's weather website.
Middle School Students Study Feasibility of Wind Power with Vantage Pro2
Photo by Pamela Powers, used with permission from the Leader-Telegram
Michelle Huppert’s 8th graders
at Spring Valley Middle and High School in Spring Valley, Wisconsin are using their new Vantage Pro2 to see if wind power would be a feasible idea for their area. While doing so, they are learning a whole lot about meteorology. The station was purchased through a grant from the Spring Valley Education Foundation.
We're happy to see the next generation of meteorologists looking at wind as a power source. Those Spring Valley students, and you, might be interested in checking out an article written by Jan Null and Christina Archer in the July/August 2008 issue of Weatherwise.
They contend that there is enough power from the wind to meet the world's electrical needs 35 times over. They also point out that wind-generated electricity is nothing new with the first windmill that generated electrical power built in 1892.
While in the US only two percent of our electricity demand is met by wind, we have been leading the world in new installed capacity, according to Null and Archer. We had a 45% spurt in 2007 alone. Texas, California, Iowa, Minnesota, and Washington are leading the charge.
Weather Check Quiz Question 4: According to Null and Archer, how much land worldwide is windy enough for wind power installations to be economical? (Click here for answers.)
Answers to Quiz Questions
Question 1: Happily, it’s E. In 2007, the US Coast Guard reported 688 deaths. Many of those fatalities involved alcohol.
Extra Credit 1: Ooooh, dangerously false. Waves that are more frequent are more steep. Even a relatively benign wave height of 6 feet can be dangerous to a small boat if the wave period is less than 7 seconds. Of course, each vessel is different, but if your skipper says wave period is irrelevant, wave goodbye from the dock.
(Source: NOAA Marine Forecasts ) (Back to stories.)
Question 2: D, but that was too easy. You have to get the Extra Credit right too in order to achieve WCQ Greatness.(Source: Homeland )
Extra Credit 2: False. Chemical weapons were never deliberately employed by the Allies or the Axis during World War II, despite the accumulation of enormous stockpiles by both sides. Italy did use chemical weapons in Ethiopia, and Japan in Manchuria and China, but not during WWII. (Source: Federation of American Scientists ) (Back to stories.)
Question 3: 5600 trillion tons. So much for the term “light as air.” (Back to stories.)
Only 13 percent. But that's still enough to "match the potential of 72,000 new coal plants, or 35 times the global electricity demands, and six times the earth's total energy demand (which also includes heating, transportation, and other energy)."
WHO YOU GONNA CALL?
Each month after the E-News goes out, we receive messages back. Sometimes the messages are in response to a story we shared; other times they are a request for help of some kind. We read all the emails, answer those we can, and pass the rest on to the appropriate departments.We think you should know, though, that if you're interested in the fastest possible reply, email@example.com may not be the best place to send your message. Questions about how things work should be addressed to tech support directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. For general information about the products contact email@example.com. To request a catalog, youll find links for catalog requests on our web site at www.davisnet.com/contact/catalog.asp.
Please continue to send your comments, weather URL's, and story suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to getting your comments and any responses you have to the Davis E-News. Member participation is what keeps the Davis E-News alive and kicking.
Well, thats it for this edition. Youll be hearing from us again next month!
The Davis Weather Club E-Newsletter is published by Davis Instruments.
© 2008 Davis Instruments Corp. All rights reserved.
Vantage Pro2, Vantage Pro2 Plus, Vantage Pro, Vantage Pro Plus, Weather Monitor, Weather Wizard, WeatherLink, WeatherLinkIP, Weather Envoy, and Perception are trademarks of Davis Instruments Corp.
If you would like to receive the Weather Club e-newsletter via email every month, sign up now.