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Weather Measurement and Prediction

August 20, 2015

What with weather satellites, Doppler radar, 24 hour weather channels, and internet weather reports we’ve become pretty spoiled at knowing what the weather will be; but this is all fairly recent stuff. It hasn’t been all that long ago when televised weather forecasting was pretty much a crap shoot, and before the age of television it was even harder to know what to expect from the weather. Just about any house built in my part of the world before World War II had a storm cellar. When a storm suddenly appeared people just didn’t know what to expect. It could be a tornado or it could be just a passing thunderstorm.

What you need to understand is that if there is some kind of major infrastructure breakdown, we could be right back in those days once again. With this in mind it would be a good idea to try and learn a bit about how weather was forecast back in the pre-mass communication days.

If you’re going to be raising your own food, which everyone will be eventually, then two things that will be very important to you are rain and temperature. You need to be able to predict rain, and you need to be able to record how much rain you have had. You need to keep an eye on temperature so that you know when seedlings and young plants need to be protected. To do these things you will need three weather instruments; a barometer, a rain gauge, and a thermometer.

I’m going to suggest that you go old school on these items. You can buy very fancy, digital home weather stations, and they are very nice. My sister has one of these set-ups, and she doesn’t even have to get out of bed to look over and see what the outside temperature, barometric pressure, and rainfall levels are. Here’s the problem, these things run on electricity, so you have to have a reliable source of power; and they are digital which means that they could be susceptible to EMP. A solar let-up could solve the power problem, but you’re still left with the possibility of the system being fried by an EMP. So, I decided to go old school with an aneroid barometer, old timey thermometers, and a bucket rain gauge.

I have a small barometer that I mounted on the wall of my porch. A barometer tells you the air pressure. High barometric pressure is usually associated with fair weather, and low barometric pressure is usually associated with stormy weather. Since the pressure most often begins to change before the actual weather develops, a barometer can help to predict when rain may be coming. A falling barometer could mean that rain is on the way. The faster and more dramatic the fall in barometric pressure; the more eminent and violent the weather may be.

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Thermometers are so abundant and so cheap these days, that there is no excuse to not have a bunch of them. Thermometers are very useful in everyday life, plus think “great trade item.” I have three thermometers set up around my house. One is mounted about five feet away from my bedroom window so that I can look out and see what the temperature is.

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I have it mounted away from the window so that any radiant heat from the house won’t affect the reading. I have a large dial thermometer in my green house, and then I have a small thermometer inside the germinating tent which is in the green house.

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With these three thermometers I can pretty well keep track of what I need to be doing with my plants.

My rain gauge is super high-tech. It’s a three gallon plastic bucket that I leave out in my garden.

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When it rains I go out and measure the amount of water in the bucket (usually just by sticking my finger down in it), and empty the bucket. If I don’t have an inch of rain in a week’s time then I know I need to start watering the garden. I’m not collecting data for NOAA here, I’m just trying to keep my garden producing. Of course you can buy a much better quality rain gauge, but the bucket has been working fine for me for many years.

So, that’s my weather set-up. Just the way I like things; simple cheap, and low-tech. Prepare today, and you’ll have a better tomorrow.

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