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Mon, Nov 20, 2017
 
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-= Definitions
In case you were curious as to how to interpret some of the weather data you see here (or how we determine this data), use the following guide:

-= Current Conditions

The icon that you see (Sunny, Partly Cloudy, Rain, Thunderstorm, Fog, etc) is generated using the latest weather report from the Indianapolis International Airport.  In general, these conditions are accurate for our area.  We would use Anderson Airport's reported conditions, however they are not updated except when the airport is open.  Therefore, it is more accurate to use the ones that are frequently updated in Indianapolis.

We also use something called "Smart Forecast" to over-ride the conditions that the airport gives us.  For instance, if there is currently a rain rate being reported by the weather station, we know that it is currently raining.  Therefore, we can safely over-ride the conditions the airport gives us and replace it with our own generated conditions.  We can take this a step further by taking into consideration the actual rain rate.  If the rain is coming down fast, we know it's a "Heavy Rain" condition.  If it is gusty, we can also consider that this might actually be a "Thunderstorm".

As you can see, there is some room for error in the "Current Conditions", however this should be a fairly accurate guess as to what the conditions actually are at our weather station.

-= Air Temperature

I'm sure you can guess what air temperature is.  We get this reading by using a sensor that is enclosed in a shielded (but non-aspirated) case.  The case is designed to keep the probe in complete darkness, preventing the temperature from being affected by solar heating.  There are slots in the case that allow for airflow around the sensor.

-= Humidity/Dew Point

Our weather station reports relative humidity.  This is the amount of water vapor actually in the air, divided by the amount of water vapor the air can hold.  This value is actually calculated from the station's reading of the dew point, or the temperature at which the air would be saturated given its current moisture content.

High dew points are generally uncomfortable in the summer (most people will say it feels humid when the dew point is above 60 and will say it is sticky and uncomfortable at dew points over 70).  When a storm is approaching, dew point can be a predictor of how severe a storm might get.  Frequently, the higher the dew point, the higher the potential for severe weather.

As evening approaches, dew point can help determine how cool it might get overnight.  It will be difficult for the air temperature to drop below the dew point (exceptions would include a cold front coming through and bringing a different air mass with it).  As the air temperature reaches the dew point, water vapor in the air will begin to condense, a process that actually releases heat.  This condensation is what forms dew and fog.

-= Wind Direction/Speed

Our anemometer is located on a radio tower, approximately 30 feet off of the ground and clear of all possible obstructions.  The anemometer is located a considerable distance from any trees or buildings near its height.  This allows for accurate readings of our wind speed and direction.

-= Barometer

Our station includes a barometer.  This force that is exerted by the weight of the air on the sensor.  29.92" Hg is considered 'average' at sea level.  Numbers above this generally predict fair weather, and numbers below predict rainy weather.  The barometric trend (rising or falling) will help in predicting if the weather will clear or turn more threatening.

-= Road Temperature

We have imbedded a temperature probe into a piece of asphalt on our property.  This probe is approximately 1/2" from the surface of the asphalt.  The probe is also compacted into the asphalt using putty, allowing for a good thermal seal.

The purpose of this probe is to allow us to be aware of when the road is cold enough that it is likely to have ice formation.  It is important to remember that no two road surfaces are identical and one road may ice before another.  Other factors (such as wind and available water) can play a part in road icing as well.  When this sensor is near the freezing mark, please take extra caution while driving.

-= Soil Temperature

We have buried a temperature probe into the soil on our property.  This probe is at 4" in depth and is in compacted soil.  In the spring, heavy rains sometimes occur while the ground is still frozen.  This will often result in flooding conditions.  By using the soil temperature sensor, we can often anticipate when flooding may occur following a heavy rain.

-= Soil Moisture

A soil moisture sensor is imbedded in the soil on our property.  This probe is at a depth of 3" and is buried at a 45 degree angle (per installation instructions).  By using this probe, we are able to see how saturated the ground is, and how likely it will be to accept more water.  If we receive a heavy rain when the ground is already saturated, flooding is the likely result.

A lower number reading means more saturated soil.  The following ranges were included as a guide with the sensor (obviously aimed towards farmers irrigating crops):

0-10 Saturated Soil.  Occurs for a day or two after irrigation.
10-20 Soil is adequately wet (except coarse sands which are drying out at this range)
30-60 Usual range to irrigate or water (except heavy clay soils).  Irrigate at the upper end of this range in cool, humid climates and with higher water-holding capacity.
60-100 Usual range to irrigate heavy clay soils
100-200 Soil is becoming dangerously dry for maximum production.  Proceed with caution.
For our purposes of flooding, a number of less than 10 centibars is a concern.  A reading under 20 centibars is a possible concern if it is an extremely heavy rain.

-= UV Index

Our weather station includes a sensor to measure the UV Index.  The UV Index is an indicator of the intensity of UV-B rays.  The following chart (made by the EPA) is a good guide:
LOW <2 Wear sunglasses on bright days. In winter, reflection off snow can nearly double UV strength.  If you burn easily, cover up and use sunscreen.
MODERATE 3-5 Take precautions, such as covering up and using sunscreen, if you will be outside.  Stay in the shade near midday when the sun is strongest.
HIGH 6-7 Protection against sunburn is needed.  Reduce time in the sun between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Cover up, wear a hat and sunglasses, and use sunscreen.
VERY HIGH 8-10 Take extra precautions.  Unprotected skin will be damaged and can burn quickly.  Try to avoid the sun between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Otherwise, seek shade, cover up, wear a hat and sunglasses, and use sunscreen.
EXTREME 11+ Take all precautions. Unprotected skin can burn in minutes. Beachgoers should know that white sand and other bright surfaces reflect UV and will increase UV exposure.  Avoid the sun between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.  Seek shade, cover up, wear a hat and sunglasses, and use sunscreen.

-= Solar Radiation

Solar radiation is a measure of how much of the sun's energy strikes our sensor.  This includes the entire electromagnetic spectrum, and not only the UV-B rays.