Jan 3, 2011:
Added DOSG (Depth of snow on ground) on the 2011 climate summaries. Added a link to the climate normals for Nanaimo Airport.
Dec 7, 2010:
Big changes to the site. I finally had some time to work on the weathercam timestamp issue but I had to move the image to it's own page in order to make it work. My PHP scripting skills are limited and this was the best solution I could manage. In order to fill the gap on the main page I added a temperature/relative humidity and a precipitation graph. These update every 10 minutes along with the current weather graphic. I have also added my PWS and Weather Underground links on the sidebar menu. The homepage background in now slate and I changed the main title to Nanaimo Kilpatrick Road Weather. I'm still working on the snow water equivalent issue, there may be a way to thermostatically control the rain collector heater.
Dec 2, 2010:
I recently experienced a significant snow event, the first one since I installed the Davis rain collector heater. The results were very disappointing. The device produces too much heat which causes significant evaporation, something in the order of 25% of the snow evaporated causing the water equivalent values to be far too low. I removed the insulating pad from the inside of the collector in order to dissipate the heat somewhat, this helped but I am still losing at least 10% of the snow to evaporation. I was manually measuring snowfall using both a snow ruler and by melting the snow that had collected in my Type B rain gauge, I adjusted the Davis values to match so my daily, monthly and annual snowfall and snowfall water equivalent values should be accurate. This is very disappointing to me because my old homebrew system of carboy heaters and extension cords worked better, it just didn't look as pretty.
I also experienced a significant rain event in November. On November 28th and 29th I recorded a total of 79mm of rain. This was a much higher total than either the Nanaimo Airport or the Davis Weather Station near VIU, almost double. However I do double check the rainfall using a Type B rain gauge so I have total confidence in my data. Port Alberni had 74mm over that period, Port Mellon had close to 100mm.
Aug 22, 2010:
My experiments with the fan aspiration system appear to have had limited success. The fan failed in early June, not sure if this was due to too much power to the unit or just the fact that it was running 24/7. It's even possible that I had a bad fan to begin with, it was a bit noisy from the start. I ordered 2 replacement fans from For the Birds Nature Shop in Mahone Bay Nova Scotia. After installing one of the new fans I reduced the power from 4.5VDC to 3 volts and then added a timer. Now I can reduce the number of hours per day that the fan is on by adjusting the timer to match day light hours. When winter comes fan aspiration won't be required so I'll probably set the timer to run the fan for a half hour per day just to keep it from seizing up. Hopefully this will improve the longevity of the fan since they cost around 40 bucks each.
Jan 7, 2010:
The cable is in place and there is power to the rain collector heater and the gill shield fan. I hope we get some snow so I can test the heater!
Jan 4, 2010:
I have nearly completed two upgrades to the station. I installed a Davis rain collector heater to replace the old homebrew system of carboy heaters and extension cords. The old setup worked just fine but wasn't very pretty or frankly very safe. Additionally I have powered the gill shield fan with a 4.5VDC power cube. Previously the fan ran only during the day when the sun shone on the solar panel, not a very good system since the solar panel is very directional and only worked for a few hours a day. Now the fan will run 24/7 providing that it is plugged in. I started this missive with the qualifier "nearly completed", the heater and fan are ready to go, I just need to run a cable to provide the power to the devices. Unlike last winter here we are in early January and we have had only a small amount of snow (5.2cm) and there are only a few wet flurries in the forecast for the next 14 days. Of course this would be the year that I invested in the Davis heater and four snow tires for my SUV.
Aug 21, 2009:
Added a link to the lighthouse weather observations on the Power Squadron page.
Still haven't done anything with the webcam image date/time stamp. I worked long hours on the Forest Service Fire Weather Desk from July 24 until Aug 12 then had to catch up on my MSC inspection reports.
July 16, 2009:
I have been more than happy with the new web host. So happy that I have gone a bit overboard updating the site, I even added a weathercam. I would have added a second but due to the heavy forest in my neighbourhood, there is just no other direction to point a camera and actually see something besides trees, I could point it at the sky I suppose. Meanwhile I need to add a timestamp to the weathercam image so people will know whether or not the image is current. Hopefully it won't take me too long to figure it out. So far the camera has been updating faithfully every 15 minutes.
June 20, 2009:
Since May 18th things have changed dramatically. Hours after the ftp transfer problems cleared up Shaw started to cache my current weather conditions for hours at a time. This was even worse than the ftp issue! My current weather would come up several hours old, sometimes a whole day. I finally took the plunge and went to another web host. I now have my own domain, weathercat.ca, and a web host that so far has provided the service level that I require. I will watch the site closely and fix any issues that come up, a few will I'm sure. Meanwhile please update your favourites to reflect the new page. For those who have linked directly to the current conditions page, that is now at http://weathercat.ca/wx/wx.htm. If you can't find something contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 18, 2009:
Good news! The problems with the ftp transfers to the Shaw server have cleared up. This means that my current conditions page is being updated every 15 minutes and the page always displays data when accessed. I have no idea why I was having so much trouble with this or why it is working well again. I had been watching the phenomenon closely and noticed that over the past several months things were improving slowly until the issue was completely resolved a week or so back. I will continue to monitor the situation but things look very good at the moment.
I recently took delivery of a solar powered fan aspirated radiation shield kit and installed it this afternoon. I decided that this was necessary in order to have accurate temperature readings during sunny summer weather, especially when the winds are light. Since the fan is solar powered it only works during during the day, this is acceptable since it is direct sunshine on the radiation shield that can cause the temperature sensor to read too high a value.
Dec 21, 2008:
The tipping bucket gauge seems to be handling the snow reasonably well now, it's still melting the snow a little slower than I would like but it works. I have been very lucky in that I have not had any power failures during this period of cold weather and heavy snow, as a result the weather data from my station is complete and up to date.
I had a chat with another company about the possibility of hosting my website. I am getting nowhere with Shaw re my ftp transfer failures. If this happens it should be relatively seamless. I will maintain the home page in it's current location and link the current conditions button to the new server. For those who like to bypass my home page and go straight to current conditions you will be redirected to the new server.
Dec 17, 2008:
The snow has arrived and I have worked very hard to get enough heat on the tipping bucket rain gauge to melt the snow. The heat tape didn't do a damn thing so I went back to the carboy heater, it worked, but poorly so I added a second one to help. The snow is melting in the rain gauge receiver now but not fast enough. The result is that the real time snow water equivalent values are in fact not real time but a half hour or more behind depending on the snowfall intensity. I should have purchased the Davis heater up front, by now I have spent at least a hundred dollars messing around with things that don't work properly. Maybe next year.
I am still having a lot of trouble with the current conditions page. The file transfers are erratic resulting in the page coming up blank on many occasions. I still feel strongly that the problem is with the Shaw ftp server but in spite of several calls I can get no assistance from their Internet support staff. I may have to go to another host to resolve this.
Dec 11, 2008:
I did a comparison of the Davis barometer vs. one of MSC's inspection barometers and was pleased to find that my Davis weather station pressure transducer is quite accurate. It was .04 of a hPa lower than the Paro Scientific, well within usable limits. I am still playing with the rain gauge but it is looking pretty good now, it's reading a bit higher than the Type B gauge but not much. I notice that there is snow in the forecast, I still haven't seen the Davis gauge perform with frozen precipitation. I am no longer using a carboy belt heater, I bought a six foot long, thermostatically controlled roll of heat tape and have wrapped that around the gauge receiver. I frankly don't know if it will work or not but I'm about to find out!
Nov 14, 2008:
The current weather page stopped updating sometime on Nov 13. I noticed the problem this morning and quickly realised the cause, I had reached my quota on the Shaw server. This was odd since there was nowhere near the allowable 22 Megabytes on the site. I deleted everything and rechecked the quota, it still showed more than 18 Mb. I called Shaw and they told me I would have to deactivate the web space and then reactivate it. I did this and sure enough my usage returned to zero. I uploaded the current weather manually and all was well again, the quota report showed: using 2.06 of 22 Mb. I was aware that there was an issue with the quota values, it was something I had been seeing for several weeks. The usage would continually increase even though I had added nothing, or at least very little to the site. Actually I am using 3 different sites which I have linked together. The home page is on one site along with everything other than the current weather conditions which are on separate site. The third site I use only for test purposes. I expect that this issue is unresolved, my usage will again increase until I approach my quotas. At least I know what to look for now and can clean up the web space before things begin to fail. I'm not sure if this has something to do with the update issues that I have been experiencing since late October, I'll keep an eye on my ftp logs.
Nov 9, 2008:
Frustration upon frustration have plagued me over the past 10 days. First of all my problems with the transfer of data updates to the website continue. In some cases the current weather station data is deleted and the new data cannot be ftp'd to the web server. On those occasions there will be no data on the website for a period of at least 10 minutes, possibly an hour. I have spent a lot of time and energy trying to sort this out and have come to the conclusion that it is a problem on the server side and nothing to do with my computers or software at all. The only thing left to test is my wireless router. Tonight I plan to connect my primary PC directly to the cable modem, if the problems persist I will be 99.9% certain that it is Shaw's ftp server. I have discussed the issue with Shaw but have not had any success convincing them that it is their problem not mine. Armed with my latest evidence I'll call them again tomorrow.
My other problem was with the new rain gauge. First of all it was plugged solid on November 6 resulting in erroneous data. I was out of town at the time and didn't realize there was a problem until late in the day. Values were quite low on the 7th after I had cleared the gauge leading me to believe that there was another issue to deal with. On November 8th I set out to resolve the problem. Fortunately I have had many years of experience calibrating tipping bucket gauges and this one is similar to the MSC units that I am used to. First of all I levelled the gauge as best I could, not that easy when it is clamped to a pole. After levelling I checked the balance of the buckets and found that one side required about 2ml more water to tip than did the other. The balance issue was corrected, now both sides match at 4ml. This also had the effect of increasing the rainfall output values to a point that very nearly matches the manual gauge. I have only had 2mm of rain since the adjustment so I may find that I will need to do some further tuning. Meanwhile I had to fudge the TBRG values on my November climate summary to make things look more reasonable. I also increased the monthly rainfall value on the weather station console to match the climate summary.
Oct 30, 2008:
I am having problems with the PC I use to update the this web page. It may take a day or two to sort this out. Meanwhile I apologise for the erratic updates on the current conditions page. Sorry.
Oct 25, 2008:
I have added a quality control page where I will display periodic temperature, humidity and barometric comparisons. Temperature and humidity will be checked against a Meteorological Service of Canada sling psychrometer. The barometric pressure will be compared to a Paro-Scientific inspection barometer on those occasions when I have access to one, usually several times per year. I have no way to check the wind sensor for accuracy other than a visual check. I will notice if the direction is out, I can only estimate the speed using the Beaufort Scale.
Oct 21, 2008:
I have revamped the main page with the intention of simplifying things for myself and for the users. I hope I haven't confused anyone.
Photos of the new weather station are now on the photo page.
I switched from the Oregon Scientific to the Davis weather station on October 10, 2008 at 2130 hrs. The data is flowing just fine but the precipitation numbers were reset to zero. The new precipitation count began Oct 14. If you need historical precipitation data go to the Climate Summaries page and call up the month for which you want data, you will find daily, monthly and annual cumulative values there. I moved the sensors to the new site on Oct 12, 2008. The cable run was done with assistance from my good friend Derrek K, he helped pull cable and crimped on the connectors for me. It helps to have the right friends with the right tools. Thanks Derrek!
It appears that I have sorted out the problems with the precipitation values on the main display. I still don't have a good sense of how the new automatic gauge compares to the manual one though. On October 16th both gauges reported 9.6mm but on the 17th the manual gauge read 8.8 while the automatic gauge reported 7.0mm. It will take a few weeks and several more rain events before I get a valid comparison.