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October, 2005 - Featured website weatherbus.com

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saratogaWX:
Congratulations to Matt, host of Weatherbus.com, in Gold Canyon, Arizona, as being selected as weatherforum.net’s Featured Weather Web Site of the Month for October 2005. Matt’s site was selected in our first-ever “runoff election,” competing with several other very notable sites.

Weatherbus.com went live in April, 2005. Matt describes his site as being very popular with the residents of Gold Canyon and Apache Junction. We think he’s being way too modest – judging by the voting and comments here, we think his site is very popular worldwide! His modesty also prevented him from mentioning that his site has been written up in two valley newspapers, The News http://www.weatherbus.com/article_02.php and the Arizona Republic http://www.weatherbus.com/article_01.php , and has a User Story featured at the Davis web site, as well as written up in Davis’ e-newsletter. Recognition well deserved in our opinion!

Never being one to leave things to chance, Matt operates three weather stations. His primary station is a Davis Vantage Pro 2. He also operates a VP1 as a backup, and uses it as a mobile station with his famous Weather Bus. You can read more about the W.B. at Matt’s site or in the article in The News (link above), but in short, it is a fully restored 1969 Volkswagon bus that Matt uses to chase storms. (Matt’s bus is a bunch older than he is – though we have fond memories of VW buses back when they were new…). Matt also has an Oregon Scientific WMR-968 station that he acquired back in 2001 as his first station. Matt built a Stevenson Screen for his WMR-968 using the plans graciously supplied by Weatheroz, our Featured Weather Web Site for September 2005.

Matt uses Ambient’s Virtual Weather Station software with his station. He likes all the features, particularly the graphs and distribution charts and the like. Matt, like many others, feels VWS is a “pretty solid piece of software.”

In what may be pretty surprising to many, Matt uses Windows Notepad to do all his HTML coding. He’s tried other development environments but hasn’t cared for them or learned how to use them. He likes that in Notepad you see exactly what you’re doing when you’re doing it, and that Notepad doesn’t add “stuff” to your code.

Matt has two motivations for having his site on line. One is that he really enjoys seeing weather conditions at his home when he’s away. As he puts it, “There is nothing worse than being at work and not getting the statistics from the big storm that just went over your house.” His second reason is so that those without weather stations or lightning detectors could enjoy seeing local weather conditions. Matt has started a newsletter to keep fans updated on happenings at weatherbus.com; a link to subscribe can be found on his home page.

Matt graciously gives a nod to virtually every other web site for some inspiration. He’s frequently seeing things on other sites that looks neat or like something he could do. Whether something as subtle as color choices, or tidbits like the weather facts found on Kevin’s page (www.tnetweather.com, the other site in this month’s runoff and a virtual neighbor of Matt’s), they all stay in Matt’s mind as possibilities for the future.

Matt thinks his layout and theme may change in time, but he sees his site as being fairly stable with the exception of adding new features. One of his big plans involves a feed from the Weather Bus, so when he’s out chasing, site visitors can watch live on a web cam. Heady stuff, Matt!

Matt sends data to the Citizen Weather Observer Program (CWOP), to Weather Underground, and to Weather For You, in an effort to get data out to the public to see and enjoy.

Matt somehow got interested in weather around the fifth grade, without one major event or trigger staying in his mind, but he’s been an enthusiast ever since.

Matt says that his most rewarding experience in having a weather web site has been getting all the great feedback from the many visitors to his site; he enjoys seeing people enjoy his site and the information it presents. Matt feels that if one person finds it useful per day, it’s rewarding to him.

Like our past winners, Matt has some sage advice for those starting out in the weather watching hobby. Matt says, “Ask questions, ask questions, ask questions. You can never ask too many questions and there is never a dumb question. That is how we learn. There is no question about if you will like the hobby or weather, because once you get into it, the winds will suck you in faster than you can say ‘meteorology!’”

His suggestion for others wanting to have a great web site like his is equally wise. “If I had to make one suggestion, I would say, give some weather conditions right up front, on the homepage, then from there make sure you can navigate the entire site with ease.”

After seeing Matt’s site and reading about him, you may well be surprised – as we initially were – that Matt is only 19 years old. The maturity he has demonstrated in his participation at weatherforum.net and in the construction of his site belie his young age. Matt is a sophomore majoring in Meteorology/Climatology, and works at nearby Mesa Community College, where among other things, he takes care of the College’s weather station. He’s also an active road biker, likes sailing, snow skiing, and SCUBA diving. As you might discern, Matt is a real outdoors enthusiast! Matt is also quite altruistic, raising money for various charities such as the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the American Cancer Society, the Diabetes Association, and numerous other local and state charity associations.

In closing, Matt says, “No web site could be successful without feedback from its visitors. Over half the success on Weatherbus.com is due to people like you that visit, support, and give feedback. For that I would like to thank each and every one of you!”

Congratulations, Matt, on your very well-deserved recognition by your peers! And congratulations to all the other nominees as Featured Weather Web Site of the Month for October, 2005!!!

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Writeup by Gary Oldham, posted Thu Oct 06, 2005 10:39 am on original weatherforum.net

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