Reading the weather at the McBride Library

by Andrea Arnold


The weather station is situated just outside the library in an open space allowing the data that it is gathering to be accurate. There are no obstacles nearby that may skew the temperature, wind speed or rain measurements. /ANDREA ARNOLD

People in McBride now have a sure way of settling arguments regarding temperature, wind chill and wind speed, along with many other aspects of McBride weather.

On December 17, 2018, a Davis Vantage Vue weather station was installed on the side of the McBride and District Library. Professor of Atmospheric Science in the Environmental Science Program, Peter Jackson saw the installation through to completion. The unit was installed by local Larry Stamm after Jackson trained him in the procedure in the fall of 2018. Stamm oversees the technology that is used in the library so it was natural for him to take on the task. He says that the assembling of the unit was quite easy actually. “The hardest part was getting the right size of pole to mount it on,” he said.

The station was donated to the Village of McBride through a project sponsored by the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (CMOS). “In 2008 we held the national CMOS congress in Kelowna,” said Jackson. “That meeting made a profit, and we (the BC Interior and Yukon Centre of CMOS) decided to use the funds to place weather stations in schools in the BC Interior and Yukon.”

So far, the project has successfully installed over 20 weather stations in schools across the interior of BC, and the Yukon. Jackson has been directly involved in the locations within the central/northern interior. Stations have been installed on schools in Vanderhoof, Tumbler Ridge, Kwadacha, and Tsay Keh Dene.  The original plan was to install the one in McBride at the secondary school, but due to administrative issues it was installed at the library.

“The goal of the program is to get students and the public interested in weather and also science and mat,” Jackson says. Secondary to that, is the service it is providing to communities where previously there has been no monitoring. The information is not being gathered for any specific purpose at this time.

The website contains the more commonly known weather terms as well as some that require research and google. Jackson broke down some of the terms so that as views on the site increase, and people start using the station to educate themselves on current temperatures, it will be clear as to what is being recorded.

The station measures the following: outside temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, air pressure, and rainfall. (It also measures inside temperature and humidity.)

The readings for outside and inside temperature are easy to understand. When combined with wind in cold conditions the temperature the combined elements make us feel is indicated by the temperature for wind chill.

Heat index has the opposite effect. At a high humidity our natural perspiration is not as effective at cooling the body. So the combined warm temperature and humidity levels result in the recorded heat index. Dew point is a way to measure the humidity. It is the temperature when air becomes saturated and dew begins to form.

A barometer measures air pressure. This measurement indicates the presence of storms. When the air pressure is dropping along with the barometer reading, it is often indicating an approaching storm, and reversely, an increasing reading shows a storm is leaving the area. The measurement mbar stands for millibar (also hectopascal), the unit used for measuring air pressure.

The wind speed indicated is measured by m/s – metres per second. 1m/s works out to be 3.6 km/h.

The amount of rain falling is recorded as rain rate and is measured in millimetres per hour.

There is also an almanac available on the site. The chart indicates the time of rising and setting of both the sun and moon.  Also listed is civil twilight.

“This is the time between sunrise and sunset when the sun is 6 degrees below the horizon,” said Jackson. “In clear weather, the start of civil twilight is when we can start to see things outside under natural light.”

The following terms all refer to the sun’s position in the sky. These are not words that get used in everyday conversation, but have included been in the interest of education.

Transit – is the daily moment when the sun culminates on the observer’s meridian, reaching its highest position in the sky.

  • Azimuth – the compass bearing of the sun’s location in degrees from true north.
  • Altitude – the sun’s angle above the horizon
  • Right ascension – the point on the celestial equator that rises with any celestial object as seen from Earth’s equator, where the celestial equator intersects the horizon at a right angle.
  • Declination – the latitude where the sun is overhead

All the information the station records is saved and can be displayed as historic data. The data is stored locally on a raspberry pi computer as well as two other locations on the internet.

The data is available through weather underground at http://tinyurl.com/mcbrideweather.

“At both locations various graphs and historical data can be plotted and displayed.”

The life expectancy of the weather station is approximately 10 years. The unit has been donated to the community for the duration of its life.

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