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In This Issue:

WeatherLink Network Tops 10,000 Stations

Davis is proud to announce that the Weatherlink® Network has grown to more than 10,000 installations throughout the world. The WeatherLink Network is a community of weather enthusiasts who use the network’s website, www.weatherlink.com, to upload and view their own weather data and to share it with anyone who is interested in accurate, location-specific weather information.

We are very excited that WeatherLink has been so well received worldwide. Click the link below to read the entire press release.

Vantage Pro2 on Robotic Observatory

Astronomical observatories and weather observing Vantage Pro2s go together very nicely, as this photo proves. There on the dome of the Oriolo Romano Robotic Observatory in Oriolo Romano, Viterbo, Italy, is a trusty Vantage Pro2. The amateur observatory has been looking at the deep skies since 2007, providing astronomical research and education.

Local residents also enjoy the added benefit of weather data, provided by, of course, the Vantage Pro2.

AnemometerWeather Check Quiz Question 1:

Amateur astronomers, check out Clear Dark Sky, a handy little website for local astronomical forecasts created by Allan Rahill of the Canadian Meteorological Center (CMC). Just plug in any one of the thousands of locations in the USA, Canada, and Mexico and get a Clear Sky Chart for that spot. Cloud Cover, Transparency, Seeing, Darkness, Wind, Temperature and Humidity are indicated by colored blocks. Find a column of blue blocks to know when to set up your scope.

Here's your quiz question: What does "seeing" mean to an astronomer?

(Click here for answers.)

Spot the Vantage Pro2

Chris Arndt hunts for the coastal inversion layer with his Tassajera Peak weather station. Photo by John Lindsey, used with permission.

We've featured Californian weather station installer extrodinaire, Chris Arndt in this newsletter several times. Here's a good story in the Tribune by John Lindsey about Chris's work, along with a good explanation of inversion layers and how they affect the weather on California's central coast

Chris uses inversion layers to predict and explain what's in store for folks in the San Luis Obispo area. He has a new station installed on top of Prefumo Canyon at about 1,247 feet (380 meters) that reports temperatures as much as 20°F warmer than those reported by his home station in a coastal valley. Chris also has access to data from higher stations on Cuesta Ridge (2,775 feet/846 meters) and the Condor Lookout Facility on Hi Mountain (3,190 feet/972 meters). Using the four sets of data, Chris can accurately determine just where that inversion layer lurks. Knowing that allows for much more accurate forecasts. You should check out Chris's SloWeather website - the weather in SLO has been ridiculously enviable.

AnemometerWeather Check Quiz Question 2:


One a hot day in San Luis Obispo, Chris was driving down Highway 1 under clear blue skies (seems that's the norm in SLO), when he noticed what seemed to be puddles on the roadway. But Chris, like you, was not fooled! He can explain what was happening, but he's not here, so you have to do it.

(Click here for answers.)

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AnemometerWEATHER 101

Superstorm Causes Super Flooding

Those folks whose businesses and homes are full of murky water brought on by Superstorm Sandy know exactly what it means to face the weather hazard of flooding. Flooding is the most common weather related hazard in the United States. Floods are also the most costly of natural disasters. According to the US Geological Survey, during the 20th century, floods were the number one disaster in the US in terms of lives lost and property damage. Hurricane Sandy is starting the 21st century off in like form.

While those in Sandy's path had some warning, the fact that flash floods can come on in minutes, even when no rain has fallen, makes them even more dangerous. With little or no warning, a dry creek can become a torrent that carries off cars and destroys roads and buildings.

While Sandy’s flood victims are coastal residents, inland dwellers are not safe either. Rivers and flooding go hand in hand. We love the lush floodplains of rivers for growing food, but those who live on a river floodplain live in terror of the deadly -- and routine -- floods. Flooding of China's Yellow River (because of the high silt content that chokes it) has killed more people than any river in the world -- millions upon millions. Chinese engineers for years have tried to control the flooding, to no avail; just as American engineers have worked to control the floods of our own Mississippi. As we have seen in the past few years, Mother Nature always manages to trump their efforts.

Flooding is not a big risk if you don't live near a river, creek, pond, lake, ocean, bay, or sea. Unfortunately for us humans, the places we most like to live are near rivers, creeks, ponds, lakes, oceans, bays and seas. Bodies of water are good for growing food, good for transporting and raising animals, and good for recreation. But when you consider all the different types of flooding -- inland flooding; coastal tidal-driven flooding; river flooding; hurricane-driven and storm-surge flooding; desert flash floods; snow melt floods -- few of us live where the risk doesn't exist.

In addition to destroying property -- buildings, sewage systems, and roads -- floods cut off fresh water supplies and power, spread diseases, destroy crops and trees, and cut off transportation.They can also spread invasive fishes and kill young fish.

Are floods ever good? Yes. Smaller floods can recharge the ground water and fertilize the soil. The ancient Egyptians celebrated the Nile's annual flooding because of the boon to farming it brought. Floods can benefit fish by bringing nutrients and increasing phytoplankton in rivers and lakes.

It's clear that for most of us, floods are not good, not good at all. Having an emegency plan can make a world of difference if flooding, or any other disaster, affects you and your family. Check out FEMA's Guide to Citizen Preparedness or Public Administration's Creating an Emergency Plan to make sure you are ready.

Tonight, if you have the good luck to sleep in your own bed in a dry home, send some good thoughts and a little money via the Red Cross, to our friends on the East Coast.

Click here to read a good story from Science on NBC News about an ancient Arctic flood that changed the climate 13,000 years ago.

AnemometerWeather Check Quiz Question 3:

According to Wave Goodbye, 10 of the World's Worst Toxic Floods on WebEcoist, Which of these deadly, toxic floods never happened?

A. Beer Flood
B. Hog Waste Flood
C. Toxic Foam Flood
D. Molasses Flood
E. Vinegar and Oil Flood
F. Dairy Manure Flood
G. Toxic Fly Ash Flood
H. Radioactive Red Sludge Flood

Extra Credit: Are all superstorms cyclones?

Extra Extra Credit: In a cyclone, does wind speed affect flood likelihood?

(Click here for answers.)

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AnemometerTECH TIPS

Crowning of the Cone

Paul Richmond does not take weather monitoring lightly. Nor does he tolerate birds on his rain collector. Being a perfectionist, he set out to crown his Vantage Pro2's rain collector cone as king of non-bird friendly spots. We like Paul's creation, and his gorgeous photos too. Here's Paul's story, as he wrote it. (We added some comments from our Tech Team, below Paul's story.)

by Paul Richmond

I live in La Mesa, California, and maintain one of the city’s weather-recording stations (Station Pabloco) in support of the National Weather Service. Rain is rare enough in San Diego County between March and December, but when we have a summer event (even just a sprinkle) it’s exciting for weather recorders and enthusiasts like me. One morning this past August, it was drizzling very steadily and persistently, yet my station wasn’t registering a drop. The roads were amply wet and still … nothing recorded. Surely there was enough moisture to accumulate on the inside wall of the cone to “tip the bucket” for at least a tenth of an inch. I was suspicious!

The next morning I inspected my rooftop station’s precipitation cone and discovered since my past cleaning of it just two months previously that several significant “deposits” had been made by birds perched on the top edge of the cone. That’s not the type of empirical data I’m interested in recording, thank you! They were such generous contributions that they solidly plugged the base of the collector even with a debris guard installed.

In a past Weather Club E-Newsletter issue, I read about another local weather-station owner (Craig Correll of Carlsbad) experiencing similar “avian woes” who fashioned what’s called a “Crown of Thorns” to mount at the top of his rain-collecting cone. I was intrigued. I contacted Craig for details. Unfortunately, I wasn’t skilled or equipped enough to do any small-scale welding. Several months later, I discovered online a similar ready-to-install product from Ambient: the Weather Rainspike. I immediately ordered one but found it was not what I had in mind.

After this past summer’s experience, I started looking to local tradesmen in the welding and metal-works industry. I came across Mike Bolden of San Diego Metalcraft right here in La Mesa and sent him an inquiring e-mail. He replied the next day, and we were quickly in discussion of how to design and build “a better mousetrap” of a crown for my weather station. Working mainly from pictures and a rough description of layout and dimensions from me, he designed and built a prototype wholly from aluminum: no rust here! There’s no way that any bird, large or small, will again perch on my rain collector. My station’s never before been so foreboding-looking without any impact on the normal functioning of it.

Comments from our Tech Team:

Paul's design looks pretty good to us.  We're mightily impressed with the craftsmanship and ingenuity. We're a little worried that so many tines of that thickness may reflect some rain drops, but in general we think it should be okay.

For less artistic anti-bird treatments, we'd suggest two-inch spikes (nails) two inches apart. They will block less rain and still deter the bird. The spikes only need to be close enough that the bird is uncomfortable closing its wings, not so close as to entirely prevent it from landing.  (Height of the nails would vary with bird size-- two inch nails might not deter a seagull.)

AnemometerI spy a davis weather station

Tough Vantage Pro2 is a Natural at the Endurance Races

Canadian photojournalist Brian Friedrich sent us this fantastic photo.

He explained: "While working as a photojournalist at the FIA World Endurance Championship race at the '6 Hours of Fuji,' I looked up to see one of Toyota's weather stations used to monitor the ever-changing conditions at the track (in this case just above the start-finish straight). Having accurate weather data is critical for teams in making decisions such as what tires (type and compound) to prepare at the next pit stop, what the next driver has to look forward to, and so on. Great to see the reliance on Davis products for this!"

Thanks for noticing, Brian!


Horse vs Vantage Pro2

John Horton, of Versailles, Kentucky has a tale to tell about the day his Vantage Pro2 met a panicked, 1000-pound horse -- and lived to report the weather.

John told us that he started his weather-nut career with a statoin of what he called an "inferior brand," the performance of which led him to upgrade to a Vantage Pro2.

John and his son had a great time installing their Vantage Pro2, mounting the ISS on a 4x4 post and the anemometer on a TV antenna.

Talk about a peaceful scene! Someone needs to paint this scene in oils.

"Everything was mounted up and operating perfectly, at a distance of 308' through two walls. Awesome!  I went a year running just the console, then bit the bullet again and got the WeatherLink data logger. WeatherLink was up and running for a couple of months and I was in the process of evaluating alternate weather software and days away from registering a domain name and web hosting when it happened. 

The tower is mounted in my barn lot with an electric tape fence separating the horse field.  Well, one beautiful late summer morning, I got a call from my neighbor saying I better go check my weather station.  That was not good, so I went out to check the ISS. UGHH! Most of the tower was flat on the ground with just the top 6' barely raised.  The 4x4 post the ISS was mounted to was flat on the ground. The 4x4 (which was bracketed to the tower) and the tower had both been buried in 24"x24"x30" of concrete.  The electric fence tape was broken and wrapped everywhere.

An older horse had gotten into the electric fence somehow and evidently couldn't escape it, going berserk.  In her panic with pain, she had run headfirst into the 4x4 post and the tower. The neighbors who own the horse had found her earlier, dazed from a fractured skull, and taken her to the vet.  I was just sick about it all -- the station, the neighbors, the horse -- I felt terrible for all." 

But there was one bright spot in the event: "Not a single piece of the station was broken or damaged - NOTHING!  A 1000 pound animal had run into it hard enough to snap a 4x4 at the ground, bend over a 3-legged TV antenna to the ground, and crack her forehead into pieces, and everything was still operating.  'Amazing' is all I can say."

And there's a happy ending: "It took me a long while to find another suitable antenna tower, but I can happily say everything is now back up and running with no problems.  And the horse survived (minus a few bone fragments that had to be removed) and is back out grazing in that same field.  All is good!"

Whew. John, give that horse some extra carrots from us. Thanks for the wonderful testimonial!

AnemometerWeather Check Quiz Question 4:

What are the horse latitudes? Why are they called that?

(Click here for answers.)

AMS Climate Change Information Page

Jan Null of Golden Gate Weather let us know that the AMS has just updated and reissued their excellent information page on Climate Change. It's a good resource for a complicated issue. Thanks, Jan!

Just For Fun: Postcard From Poland

A picture postcard from the lovely little city of Jelenia Gora, Poland. Vantage Vue writes, "Seeing all the sights; the weather is gorgeous; Poland is a dream! Wish you were here!"

AnemometerWeather Check Quiz Question 5:

Hey, let's all spend December in Poland! Poles are known for taking their Christmas celebrations seriously -- with plenty of crafts, family, friends, good food, and mulled beverages.

Spot the fib among these Polish Christmas traditions:

1. Dogs and pigs can talk on Christmas Eve in Poland.
2. When the clock chimes twelve midnight on Christmas eve, Polish children rush to try to break 12 raw eggs before the chimes stop. Those who don't break any of the yolks can expect good luck throughout the year.
3. If you are the first person to visit a house on Christmas Eve, and you happen to be a woman, you may not be totally welcome.
4. People watch for the first star to appear in the night sky before sitting down to Christmas dinner.
5. Most Poles are vegetarians (or perhaps pescatarians) on Christmas.
6. Poles save caroling for the day after Christmas, called Szczepan.
7. Santa does not make an appearance on Christmas Eve.

(Click here for answers.)

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 What do you think of the E-Newsletter? How can we improve? How do you use your Davis weather products? E-mail us at news@davisnet.com.


Question 1: What does "seeing" mean to an astronomer?

Astronomers know there's good seeing and bad seeing, even if English majors disagree. Bad astronomical seeing happens when turbulence is combined with temperature in the atmosphere. Planets might look like they are "under a layer of rippling water." It can occur in perfectly clear weather. You can have good seeing with poor transparency, which relates to the amount of water vapor in the air.

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Question 2: One a hot day in San Luis Obispo, Chris was driving down Highway 1 under clear blue skies (seems that's the norm in SLO), when he noticed what seemed to be puddles on the roadway. But Chris, like you was not fooled! He can explain what was happening, but he's not here so you do it.

When the blue skylight traveled through the warm air near the roadway, the difference in air density caused it's light to be bent up toward Chris's eyes. That made it look like a reflection of the sky, as if in a puddle, when it was really just a common old inferior mirage.

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Question 3: Which of these deadly, toxic floods never happened?

lf you clicked through to the story, you know that at least there has never been a Vinegar and Oil flood. That probably is small comfort after reading about people drowned in basements filled with beer in jolly old England; hog manure flowing the streets of a town in North Carolina; a blizzard of clumps of industrial foam saturated with toxic hydrogen sulfide blown off the river in Sao Paulo; the rivets of molasses tanks "shooting out like bullets from a machine gun;" thousands of dead fish floating in the Black River after millions of gallons of cow manure were released from a holding lagoon in New York; 6'-deep channels of fly ash (a by-product of coal-fired power plants) in Tennessee; and seven Hungarian villages swallowed by radioactive alkaline bauxite residue (red sludge); not to mention the toxic flood waters that bathed New Orleans after Katrina.

Extra Credit: Are all superstorms cyclones?

Yes, but all cyclones are not superstorms.

Extra Extra Credit: In a cyclone, does wind speed affect flood likelihood?

Not directly. It’s the amount and intensity of rainfall that is the problem.

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Question 4: What are the horse latitudes? Why are they called that?

The horse latitudes lie between 30° and 35° north and 30° and 35° south of the equator, and are known for the constant high pressure ridge that creates dry weather and weak winds. Land in the horse latitudes tends to be desert: the Sahara, Atacama, Kalahari are all in the horse latitudes. No one really knows why they are called horse latitudes, so if you think you know, read on. One common idea is that sailors used to toss the horses and cows overboard to lighten the load and get the ship moving, or because the poor things were dying or dead. But we think they might have been more inclined to have horse and beef barbecues before feeding the fishes all that nice meat. We find another theory more likely: that sailors usually started a voyage from Europe in debt to the paymaster and had to work off the "dead horse" of debt and this usually happened about they time they reach the horse latitudes. We can relate to that one.

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Question 5: Spot the fib among these Polish Christmas traditions.

The false one is the egg breaking. There would be a lot of scrambled eggs, messy floors, and depressed children in Poland on Christmas morning if it were true. Tradition says animals can talk on Christmas Eve and a woman as first visitor is said to bring misfortune. But those traditions are just for fun (though we wonder if poor visiting Grandma thinks being bad luck is all that fun). Folks watch for the first stars, then sit down to 12 dishes served on Christmas Eve that usually omit meat, and caroling is a Boxing Day (or St. Stephan's Day) activity. Santa is long gone by Christmas -- he's part of the Advent celebration, coming in time for the feast of St. Nicholas on December 6.

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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 that if you're interested in the fastest possible reply, news@davisnet.com may not be the best place to send your message. Questions about how things work should be addressed to tech support directly at support@davisnet.com. For general information about the products, contact sales@davisnet.com. To request a catalog, see the links for catalog requests on our web site at www.davisnet.com/contact/catalog.asp.

What do you think of our E-news? Please continue to send your comments, weather URLs, and story suggestions to news@davisnet.com. 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, that's it for this edition. You'll be hearing from us again next month!
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