People do something about the weather
By John Lindsey
The spread of personal wireless weather stations that are connected to the Internet has revolutionized weather observations. These home weather stations are affordable, reliable, accurate and can be placed almost anywhere.
They are particularly suited to areas such as San Luis Obispo County, which has an abundance of microclimates. For weather enthusiasts, it is fascinating to compare their communityís rainfall totals and temperature ranges with those in other parts of the Central Coast. People with orchards, vineyards and gardens can tell if the air temperature is dropping toward freezing and take measures to protect from Jack Frost. Itís also nice to know how much rain has fallen so you donít turn on your sprinklers unnecessarily.
One of the more interesting applications for this type of weather station can be found at the Point San Luis Lighthouse. If it rains too much, the serpentine soils that compose parts of the Pecho Coast Trail that leads to the lighthouse become slippery. Because of safety concerns, PG&E will cancel the hikes that occur on Wednesdays and Saturdays until the soil dries enough for safe walking.
PG&E is the steward of the lands that surround the lighthouse and the trail. The actual lighthouse property and buildings were transferred from the Coast Guard to the Port San Luis Harbor District in 1992. In 1995, the Point San Luis Lighthouse Keepers was formed to take on the responsibility of restoring and maintaining the lighthouse.
A few weeks ago, Ken Irwin of the Lighthouse Keepers and Chris Arndt of SLOweather.com installed a Davis Vantage Pro 2 weather station donated by PG&E to more accurately determine rainfall amounts near the Pecho Coast Trail.
This weather station will also let docents, hikers and Point San Luis Lighthouse trolley riders know the current temperature and winds at this jewel of the Central Coast by using their smart phones and logging onto the www.SLOweather.com
website. Having this type of data so readily available at the touch of a button on your cell phone would have seemed like science fiction just a decade ago.
Arndt, an electronics wizard, first installed a weather station at his home in western San Luis Obispo back in 1998 and a few years later put it on the Internet. He later added a lightning detector, which became very popular with local weather buffs and meteorologists.
He gave his parents a Davis wireless weather station. They later asked Chris if weather information from their station could also be displayed on the SLOweather.com webpage. He designed and built his own interface box that plugs into any cable/DSL network router, allowing the weather station data to be displayed on his website.
Over the years, heís added 10 weather stations, ranging from the top of the Condor Lookout facility, at 3,190 feet on Hi Mountain about 15 miles east of San Luis Obispo, to the coast at the Point San Luis Lighthouse and areas in between. He has plans to add weather stations throughout San Luis Obispo County.
Another site that has quite a few local wireless weather stations is the Weather Underground site at www.wunderground
.com Weather data from other wireless stations throughout America and the rest of the world can be viewed from Davis Instrumentsí website at www.davisnet
For information about visiting the Point San Luis Lighthouse by trolley or hiking the Pecho Coast Trail, go to www.sanluislighthouse.org
, or you can call 540-5771.