How to build a weather station

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How to build a weather station
Home weather stations allow you to monitor and better predict your local weather. (raindrop image by Mykola Velychko from

Constructing a basic weather station allows you to supplement observations of the weather with numerical data. Home weather stations may be as simple or complex as you like, and you may want to start with a few simple instruments and, if you enjoy weather observation, add more and more complex instruments as you progress. An important part of weather observation, too, involves keeping a journal of your daily results and observations.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Window shutters
  • White gloss paint
  • Thermometer
  • Minimum-maximum thermometer
  • Rainfall gauge
  • Barometer
  • Windsock, weathervane or anemometer
  • Hygrometer
  • Journal

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    Building an Instrument Shelter

  1. 1

    Construct a wooden box about 18 inches tall and 18 inches wide on all sides and with a door on the front. The wood should be slatted to allow the air to flow freely. Old shutters work well for this purpose.

  2. 2

    Paint the box with white gloss paint.

  3. 3

    Choose a location for your weather shelter, which will house instruments that are especially sensitive to sun and wind. The ideal location is at least 32 feet from any buildings and 4 feet above grassy ground.

    Adding Instruments and Gauges

  1. 1

    Begin by installing a thermometer. Place the thermometer inside your instrument shelter, or if you do not have an instrument shelter and live in the Northern Hemisphere, mount the thermometer on a north-facing wall, about 6 feet above the ground and 3 to 4 inches away from the wall. The thermometer should not sit in direct sunlight or near any reflective surfaces, and air should be able to flow freely around the bulb.

    How to build a weather station
    Direct sunlight or poor air flow may affect your temperature readings. (thermometer image by timur1970 from
  2. 2

    Install a minimum-maximum thermometer in your instrument shelter or in the same location as your thermometer. This instrument records the high and low temperatures during the day. If you are using a digital thermometer, this ability comes built in.

  3. 3

    Install a rain gauge to measure precipitation. The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) recommends placing your gauge away from buildings, trees and solid fences. In their training program for rainfall reporters, they advise, "In open areas, strive to be twice as far from obstacles as they are high. In developed areas, strive to be as far from obstacles as they are high."

    How to build a weather station
    Keep your rain gauge away from obstacles such as buildings, trees and solid fences. (rain drops 2 image by Stanislav Halcin from
  4. 4

    Add a barometer to your instrument panel. Barometers measure air pressure and can be kept inside of your instrument shelter, if you are using one, or even inside of your house, since air pressure does not vary between indoor and outdoor locations. Keep your barometer out of direct sunlight, away from drafts and in a location where temperature does not vary much.

  5. 5

    Measure wind speed and direction inexpensively using the Beaufort Scale and a wind sock or weather vane. Anemometers give more precise measurements of wind direction and speed, though they are more expensive. Wind direction refers to direction the wind blows from.

  6. 6

    Install a hygrometer to measure humidity. Humidity refers to the amount of water vapour in the air.

Tips and warnings

  • Ideally, you should take readings from your weather station twice per day. The National Weather Service records weather data at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
  • Don't underestimate the power of observation. Through observations of cloud types and animal behaviour, you can learn to better predict weather in your area. Keep a weather diary, make sketches and take photographs to record your observations.
  • Don't trust your memory. Keep a written record of your readings and observations as soon as you take them.

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