You don’t need a weatherman to tell which way the wind’s blowing

Posted on November 19, 2008


I don’t think about wind much. Where I live, it’s almost always coming out of the west/northwest, and if I want to confirm that, I can send Cowboy out and watch which way his ears flap. No, what I want to know is how cold it is where I’m headed (until about June, when I begin to wonder how hot it is). I want to know when it’s going to warm up, or cool off, or snow, or stop raining. For these important news items, I need a weatherman. Fortunately, we have two right here in Torch Lake Township.

Bruce Laidlaw maintains a weather station and a webcam at his bayside home. In fact, his weather station transmissions are the source of the temperature and forecasts on the Torch Lake Views weather widget over there in the righthand column. Here’s how it works, as photographed and described by Bruce himself:

Rooftop equipmentThis stuff is on the roof:

At the top, there are two sensors for wind speed and direction. Below is the precipitation collector and thermometer. The thermometer is protected by a heat shield. The system is solar powered. It wirelessly transmits the data to a monitor in the house.

Here’s the inside monitor. It has lots of controls I seldom use. It transmits the data wirelessly to an old laptop computer which then sends it to the Weather Underground web site which displays tons of information.
Inside monitor

CameraWhen we are not in Eastport I have a camera set to record weather data. It wirelessly transmits the views to a wireless router which transmits to a password protected Internet web page. On the web page I can see live or stored views.
The camera has a motion detector that captures any nearby activity including night time visitors.

Night visitor

Lots of volunteers transmit data from setups like this all over the country. Some of them update their streams every second. Bruce’s station updates every five minutes or so, which works very well for me, as I can’t imagine obsessing over it more often than that.

The Weatherman’s interest in the weather is practical. He loves outdoor sports. Kayaking across the Bay to Northport, for example. Sailing, windsurfing, cross-country skiing, geocaching. (He cleared the first trails at Barnes Park. Now they’re wood-chipped and maintained by the staff.) He needs to know where the snow is the way I need to know who’s making pizza.

He and his wife Andi are brand new grandparents, so they may be spending a litle time away from the Bay getting acquainted with their grandson. That’s OK. They can always check in on the webcam to watch Mama Nature having a tantrum in their backyard!

Next week, the Other Weatherman in Torch Lake Township.