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May, 2006 - featured website beamsvillewx.ca

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saratogaWX:
Congratulations to Ann-Marie Keenan and the Beamsville Weather Station in Ontario, Canada, for your selection as Weatherforum.net’s Featured Weather Web Site for May, 2006! Weatherforum.net isn't the only place recognizing the Beamsville Weather Station - Ann-Marie and her site were recently featured in Niagara This Week!

The Beamsville Weather Station went live in March, 2006. Ann-Marie’s previous website, the Beamsville Weather Page, went live in September, 2004.

Ann-Marie uses an Oregon Scientific WMR-968 wireless weather station. She selected this station because it was affordable, and it turned out to be a good investment for her. She has not been disappointed as it has served her well for two years. She may later invest in a Davis station, feeling it to be a more “complete” weather station. Ann-Marie has constructed a Stevenson Screen for the thermo-hygrometer using the directions from Weatheroz at loganvillageweather.com.! She also has a Boltek StormTracker lightning detector, protected by housing constructed using Drake Woodruff’s plans (http://www.drakew.com/).

The Beamsville Weather Station is powered by Virtual Weather Station software by Ambient. Ann-Marie chose VWS (she says “naively”) because it was on the Ambient website where she purchased her weather station, but has not been disappointed with it. She likes its many features and has found it to be very reliable. Ann-Marie also uses NexStorm, WASP2, and SkyMet software by Astrogenic, and feels they are all excellent products. She also uses GRLevel3 radar viewer software with a subscription to Allisonhouse data. Ann-Marie has also recently invested in WxSim software. She says once she educates herself further about it, she’ll be posting her own forecasts on her site. Watch out, Environment Canada – sounds like Beamsville is getting better equipped than you are!

For web development, Ann-Marie uses FrontPage, Alleycode HTML editor, and the ever popular Notepad. She leans more on Alleycode and NotePad for any HTML and PHP script changes. She says she’s no expert at scripting, but learning html and php has been a challenge she’s enjoyed very much! Ann-Marie says, “I think it's fascinating to place the script in a web page, then see what it does!”

Ann-Marie’s motivation for having a weather web site is that she likes seeing her data on the internet, and being able to access it from anywhere she goes. The Beamsville Weather Station also serves a local need: folks don’t need to wait for local weather information to appear on TV or the radio; they can get at it any time from Ann-Marie’s web site. She also enjoys sharing with visitors the uniqueness of the region in which she lives.

Ann-Marie readily credits other web sites from which she has drawn inspiration. She says, “I have seen many great weather sites, every one of them an inspiration (you know who you are!). I’ve harassed many webmasters (LOL). The list is long, but I was attracted to Brad Foster's Site. He operates Oregon Web Solutions. We collaborated on the design, and I added my own "flavour" to the website.”

As you might expect from the comprehensive nature of the Beamsville Weather Station, Ann-Marie has big plans for the future of her site. She hopes to be adding marine data soon, as Beamsville is situated between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, and there are many people who need current and forecast weather data before they go out on the lakes. She would also like to invest in WeatherFlash. She says she’s been staring at it forever, and now that her site is hosted on a server that utilizes PHP, she can go for it. She’s also considering adding a web cam to her site.

Ann-Marie also contributes to the science of meteorology and the public good by submitting her data to the Citizens Weather Observer Program (CWOP), the Weather Underground, and Weather For You. As she says, “They want to use my data, so I’m willing to share it. Isn’t that what it’s all about?” Well put, Ann-Marie!

Like many of us, Ann-Marie was bitten by the weather bug at an early age. She remembers being awakened in the middle of the night by a huge electrical storm. Her father was already up watching it, and they stayed up together watching the storm until it ended. She says, “The power of nature! I was hooked! After that, any time a thunderstorm occurred, I would have to sit at the window and watch it. I walked around with my Instant Weather Forecasting In Canada book (I still have it!) all the time, learning about the weather and what the sky was telling me. My parents indulged me in my weather obsession. They bought me a children's weather station, and even built me a Stevenson Screen.”

For Ann-Marie, the most rewarding aspect of having a weather web site has been the support and appreciation she’s gotten from family, friends, and the public for the weather data her site provides.

Like all our past honorees, Ann-Marie has wise advice for those wanting to get into weather watching as a hobby. She counsels, “Research! Go on the Internet, into weather forums, start asking questions. The forums are there because the members want to help, so ask away! Get other weather station owners’ opinions before you make a weather station or software purchase. They are the voice of experience, and remember, experience is a great educator.”

Ann-Marie has similarly cogent advice for those wanting to set up a weather web site. She recommends, “Don't overwhelm your visitors with too much data on your pages. Spread the information over a few pages, categorize it. Invite critiques of your site, welcome feedback, find out what your visitors would like to see on your website, ask which data is of value to them.”

Ann-Marie grew up in Grimsby, Ontario, where her parents moved (from Hamilton, Ontario) just two weeks before her birth. She moved to the next town over, Beamsville, shortly after her marriage to her husband, Kevin, almost 19 years ago. Kevin immigrated to Canada from Ireland in 1983. They have three sons, Dillon-18, Conor-16, Aidan-14, and a daughter, Mary-Therese-12. Their household also includes a dog, Billy, and a cat Binx. Ann-Marie is a Certified Dental Assistant, and also drives a school bus. Ann-Marie has a special needs route, and "her kids", as she calls them, are “beautiful.” She has driven some of them for six years now. Ann-Marie’s hobbies include weather observing (of course!) astronomy, playing piano, music, camping, reading, surfing the ”Net”, taking brisk walks, cycling, and taking pleasure in her family and everyday life. Hmmm… a weather nut who also has a life… something else we can all learn from, Ann-Marie!

In closing, Ann-Marie says, “I’d like to say thanks for the support of my husband who fortunately for me, could actually understand my “need” for all that weather equipment and software; Brad Foster of Oregon Web Solutions, the many webmasters and members of this and other weather forums for their help and for putting up with my many questions, and especially to the visitors to my site for their input and support and showing me that my work is appreciated.”

Congratulations, Ann-Marie and the Beamsville Weather Station, for being selected by your peers as Weatherforum.net’s Featured Weather Web Site for May, 2006! Congratulations, also, to all our outstanding nominees – your efforts have not gone unnoticed!

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Writeup by Gary Oldham, posted May, 2006 on original weatherforum.net

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