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Some Unique Weather Instruments

This gauge is mechanical in nature, as it uses the weight of the collected rain to move a dial which shows how much rain has fallen.

In the last issue we looked at the various home weather station options available, and while I didn’t recommend any particular weather station in that article, I have received several e-mails asking for just that. So, before we move on to look at some of the more traditional weather instruments, here are my recommendations.

If you have a bit of budget to work with, I would recommend the Davis Vantage Pro 2 wireless weather station. This has pretty much everything you would want in a weather station, plus the ability to add on more sensors, such as for soil moisture and temperature.

Davis has also come out with a new weather station called the Vantage Vue. This is an all-in-one design that you simply have to mount somewhere and you are pretty much done. While this makes it easy to install, there is a disadvantage of having your temperature and wind sensors at the same place.

Am I a fan of Davis weather stations? Well, I guess I am. I have used these stations for years without any problems and everyone I know who owns one has had the same experience. These are also the same stations that the Canadian Wheat Board is installing through its WeatherBug program.


OK, enough with the geeky high-tech stuff: what’s out there for the traditionalists? It seems as though the choice in this area is about as big or bigger than with the computerized home weather stations.

If you look around hard enough, you can find almost anything you can think of for monitoring the weather, with prices as low as a few dollars to several hundred dollars. As with the complete weather stations, you tend to get what you pay for. The only problem, or maybe it’s not a problem, is that most of these more traditional weather instruments are manufactured for the U. S. market, which means they will often only have imperial units (no metric).

I don’t have room to discuss

all the different weather instruments available out there, so instead I’m going to pick a few I think are interesting, different, or of really nice quality and design.

The first instrument that caught my eye was the Status long-term professional rain and snow gauge. This gauge can be set up to measure either rain or snow (good for our part of the world) and measure to the nearest 100th of an inch. It is designed to funnel the rain into an inner compartment that can record up to 11 inches of rain. It is made of clear plastic and sells for around $35.

Another extremely interesting and very well made rain gauge is the Jefferson rain gauge by Conant. This rain gauge is made of solid brass, stands about 2.5 feet tall, and has a lifetime warranty. This gauge is mechanical in nature, as it uses the weight of the collected rain to move a dial which shows how much rain has fallen. Definitely a rain gauge that will promote plenty of discussion! Price: $200.


Looking at thermometers, there are literally hundreds of choices. One of my favourites, but not the most practical, is the Galileo thermometer. These are the ones with the floating balls suspended in water. As the temperature changes the density of the water changes, causing the balls to sink, indicating what the temperature is. On the more practical side you can get a minimum/maximum thermometer for around $25; it’s like a regular old thermometer but designed in such a way that it will show you what the minimum and maximum temperatures have been since the last time it was reset.

If you are interested in getting a barometer, one of the most interesting ones I have come across is the tendency barometer. These classic-looking barometers were developed in the early 1800s and consist of two liquid-filled tubes. One tube is U-shaped, open ended and filled with a red fluid; the other is a closed thermometer tube filled with a blue fluid. The tubes are mounted parallel to each other. When the fluid levels are the same, the weather is changing. When the red fluid level is below the blue fluid level, the weather is fair (high pressure pushes the red fluid down in the tube). When the red fluid level is above the blue, stormy weather is predicted (low pressure allows the red fluid to move up the tube). The price for one of these barometers is around $200 but it would definitely bring a classic look to any room.

Once again I am running out of space. Hopefully I have helped some of you out with this little snapshot of just what weather instruments are available out there. If you are trying to find something in particular and just can’t seem to find it, let me know and I’ll see if I can help.

About the author

Co-operator contributor

Daniel Bezte

Daniel Bezte is a teacher by profession with a BA (Hon.) in geography, specializing in climatology, from the U of W. He operates a computerized weather station near Birds Hill Park.



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