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November, 2005 - Featured website


Congratulations to Gordon Clarkson, webmaster of “” in Ellicott City, Maryland! Our apologies for the delay in getting this story posted; somewhere in the magical electronic ether, Gordon’s response to our interview questions got sucked into the great black hole. But being late takes nothing away from the honor or the outstanding nature of Gordon’s site, which went live only a few months ago, in June, 2005.

Gordon collects his weather data using a stock Davis VantagePro 2, powered by Ambient’s Virtual Weather Station software. Gordon chose VWS due to its tight integration with Weather Underground.

Gordon’s elegant web page was built with Microsoft’s FrontPage software, about which Gordon seems to have some reservations… but the outstanding results speak for themselves! Gordon's motivation for having his site on-line is that he likes contributing his weather data to his community as well as the “gee whiz” factor when he tells folks he has his own weather station at home.

Gordon’s web site was inspired by those of several others, particularly Steve Fitzgerald’s site in Apex, North Carolina ( ). While there is some resemblance, you can readily see that Gordon has made his site his own, with a unique and very attractive simplicity that gives the visitor solid weather data without a lot of distractions (I could really benefit from some of that on my own site!) Gordon plans to upgrade his site in the future with the addition of a webcam.

Gordon also sends weather data to the Citizen Weather Observer Program (CWOP) and to Weather Underground. He does so because it’s easy to do within VWS, and he feels that his data is beneficial (it is!)

Gordon’s interest in weather was inspired by hand puppets. Really. When he was 6 or 7 years old, the local weathercaster used puppets to deliver the forecast, and he’s been hooked ever since. (When his webcam goes live, be on the lookout for lurking puppets or stuffed animals…)

The most rewarding experience Gordon has had with having a web site has been figuring out how to integrate a Java-based level 2 menu bar. It took two weeks to get right, but as you can see by visiting his site, it is a highly functional and elegant solution. He now wonders what the fuss was about… (this stuff is easy once you get it done!)

Gordon’s advice for a beginning weather hobbyist is to buy the best weather station that you can afford. Reading internet forums about people’s experiences with low end weather stations bears that out – too many people buy a comparatively inexpensive weather station only to find it very unsatisfactory. Often they’re reluctant to spend even more money in buying a higher quality replacement, and leave the hobby or remain frustrated.

Gordon also has wise advice for those wanting to build a weather web site or to upgrade the one they have, “Be objective and welcome constructive criticism.” That’s certainly sage advice from which we could all benefit.

Gordon still lives in the town in which he grew up (watching that weathercaster armed with hand puppets.) He is 45 years old, and has been married to “a wonderful wife” for 19 years. They have two children. He builds Windows XP images for IBM PCs for a major hospitality company. He enjoys home remodeling (busy this weekend, Gordon?) and listening to his police scanner.

Gordon says, “It’s great to be a part of a community whose members are always willing to help when you need it!” We think that’s a feeling most of our members would echo!

Congratulations again, Gordon, on your well deserved selection as’s Featured Weather Web Site of the Month for November, 2005. Congratulations also to our other nominees – all your sites are excellent!

Writeup by Gary Oldham, posted Tue Nov 15, 2005 3:13 pm on original


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