Weather Stations in Rappahannock County
Currently, Rappahannock does not have detailed weather data records. What is available is extrapolated from outside sources. There are a few scattered weather stations keeping long-term records including one at Sunnyside Farm, one at the high school, and one in Gid Brown Hollow which has been operating for about ten years.
With more stations and better collaboration it is possible to monitor changes in weather patterns to help farmers and other landowners adapt to changes in climate. The data can provide accurate information on temperature, precipitation and other variables.
Because we sit at the top of our watershed, all of our water ultimately comes from precipitation, not from an upstream source. We have heard stories of springs drying, storms becoming more severe or weather patterns becoming less predictable. It is beneficial to monitor these changes.
Rappahannock is a rural and agricultural community and therefore dependent upon the quality and quantity of its water resources. To be informed stewards of our natural resources, increasing the capacity to collect, maintain, and analyze weather data will benefit our community.
After research and discussion, RLEP has determined that the benefit of strategically placed weather stations in Rappahannock is a worthwhile investment and is purchasing two weather stations.
Weather Station at Sunnyside
To cover the variations in Rappahannock County, weather stations should be located in areas that capture a range of topography. Spacing the stations widely around the county and situating them at different elevations will provide data that carries the broadest benefit to the community. Keeping in mind that Rappahannock is at the headwaters of our watershed, therefore our water is intimately tied to precipitation patterns.
How do they work?
The stations are easily assembled and mounted on a pole or fence. Because structures change wind patterns the stations should not be mounted on or too near a building.
The weather stations collect data on temperature, relative humidity, precipitation, dew point, pressure and other weather variables. The station sends this data to an indoor receiver every minute, which in turn reports it to the cloud for storage. Data is stored for a time on both the receiver and in the cloud, where it can be periodically downloaded and saved by the user. The process is very straightforward and the software that comes with the station for analyzing data is very user friendly and fun to use (you may get addicted). No high-tech skills necessary and is a great way to learn about how various climatic variables interact to create the weather patterns.
The stations come with an indoor receiver that provides the user with an up-to-the-minute readout of weather variables. The data is stored automatically both within the receiver and in the cloud. No dedicated computer hookup is necessary to collect the data, though you will need a computer to examine data records and periodically download them. A dedicated wireless internet connection is a must or else the data cannot be reported in real time and we lose community access. The stations will come with a software package that allows the user to analyze their data, create graphs and examine trends. This software also allows the data to be exported in a spreadsheet such as MS Excel. RLEP would require that a copy of the records be periodically shared so we can build an open community database for everyone to have access to the information.
How does it work?
The weather station runs off solar power with an inexpensive backup battery similar to the type used in digital cameras. The indoor receiver plugs into the wall and has a battery compartment in case of power outage. Batteries should be checked regularly to avoid loss of data in case of power outages (nothing more ironic than not being able to see the speed of the wind gust that took out your power). Sunnyside Farm reports that they only had to change the batteries once in three years.
Updates on RLEP’s Rappahannock County Weather Stations will be available soon.