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Rainfall measurement

Which precipitation measurement technology is right for your application?

Tipping Bucket? Impact? Optical? Doppler radar? How can you know which rain measurement technology is the best for your weather station? Whether you just need to know if it rained and the track is wet, or when the rain began, or whether it is rain or snow, the different technologies each have their advantages.

  • The Orion Weather Station's impact rain gauge requires no maintenance and is able to detect hail.
  • Tipping bucket rain gauges are the most widely used in the world.
  • The Pulsar's Doppler radar precipitation sensor is the fastest responding with resolution of 0.01 mm.

This new tutorial outlines the pros and cons of each technology. And if you still can't decide, feel free to give us a call!

Click for more detailed information

Water Management weather station

Orion Weather Station at Jordanelle Dam with solar radiation sensor and tipping bucket rain gauge. Photo courtesy of CUWCD.

According to their website, Central Utah Water Conservancy District (CUWCD) is "proud of its role in managing the water in its jurisdiction and using technology, intelligence and hard work to ensure the best possible balance for man and nature.” As part of this management and use of technology, Orion Weather Stations are located at Jordanelle Dam and Utah Lake Pumping Station with three more soon to be delivered. The weather monitoring systems include the Orion all-in-one sensor unit as well as Weather MicroServers with additional tipping bucket rain gauge and solar radiation sensors.

Weather data is used for modeling historical data for future planning, operational decisions, and available to the public for recreation planning.

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Carbon Dioxide Installed

The carbon dioxide sensor is housed in a radiation shield.

Responding to customer request, we have added an ambient Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Sensor for use with the Weather MicroServer. This new feature was implemented specifically for an Apple data center via customer Siemens Building Technologies.

The CO2 sensor uses an infrared light source to measure ppm-level carbon dioxide. The sensor is configured for analog output.The sensor is installed in a self-aspirating radiation shield to protect it from the effects of solar radiation. The sensor should be installed in a location that represents ambient atmospheric CO2 levels.

Go to Weather MicroServer, click on Additional Sensors

Siemens Building Technologies offers data center solutions

See other Data Centers application page

Call for a quote toll free 1-866-625-8620 or email

Orion Vehicle-Mount Weather Station

Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue HazMat Response Vehicle.

Magellan MX500 Weather Station

The new Magellan MX Weather Station with GPS is the latest in mobile weather monitoring technology.

“Being aware of the weather conditions before, during, and after an incident is imperative,” quotes columnist Chuck Sallade in Firefighter Nation. Of course, we couldn’t agree more!

Weather information is useful for:

  1. Risk Management – Identify and assess hazardous weather conditions for PPE and resource management from safe approach through potential evacuation
  2. Helping predict fire behavior
  3. Safe operation of equipment – firefighting and rescue
  4. Incident reporting and recording the weather for Fire Cause Determination
  5. Plume modeling for smoke and HazMat

Vehicle-mounted weather stations are quick to set up and within minutes can be automatically recording data for incident decision-making and reporting, as well as, transmitting data to programs such as CAMEO/ALOHA for plume modeling.

“We are now able to receive ‘Live’ accurate weather data to use with the ALOHA Air Plume modeling program,” says Lieutenant Pearson of Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue. “Having ‘Live’ weather data is vital to our operation.”

The bottom line is that the conditions at the incident may not be exactly as forecast or reported elsewhere. There’s no substitute for immediate, accurate, on-site weather data.

The new Magellan MX Weather Station from Columbia Weather Systems is the latest in weather monitoring technology for public safety. At Columbia Weather Systems, our job is to make weather monitoring easy so First Responders can do their job best.

Click for additional resources below:

Arizona HazMat Exercise

Tualatin Valley F&R HazMat Exercise

View all CWS Vehicle-Mount Weather Stations

Magellan MX Vehicle-Mount Weather Station

Open Magellan MX Press Release PDF

Call for a quote toll free 1-866-625-8620 or email

Water Treatment Plant

Carlos Alfaro monitors data at the Whittier Narrows Water Reclamation Plant.

LA County Sanitation District has purchased seven Orion weather stations since 2011 – mostly Orion 420s – sited at their water reclamation plants. One of our technicians, Kathryn Hammond, was recently in the area and got a tour of the Whittier Narrows facility.

Prior to her visit Kathryn had spoken with Albert Mata on an installation follow-up with this report: “Albert installed the system. Loves it. Was easy to install.”

Carlos Alfaro, Supervisor of Treatment Plant Operations, gave Kathryn the tour, including the catwalk over the tank. (Whittier Narrows is an open tank wastewater treatment facility.)

Kathryn reports that they use primarily wind speed and direction parameters to help manage for odor based on complaints from the neighbors, as well as the possibility of chemical spills. Using an Allen-Bradley PLC system, the systems is monitored with FactoryTalk software.

Learn more about Orion 420 Weather Stations with 4-20 mA signal interface

Magellan MX500 Weather Station

Magellan MX500 Sensor with internal compass and GPS, pressure, temp, humidity and wind sensors.

New GPS met station offers rapid-deploy, real-time weather data

The Magellan MX is a new weather station line from Columbia Weather Systems offering GPS and compass readings, particularly useful for vehicle and mobile applications requiring real-time met data on the go, such as incident command centers and hazmat vehicles.

Magellan MX weathers stations offer four different all-in-one parameter configurations.

MX600: rain gauge, ultrasonic wind speed and direction, temperature, relative humidity, air pressure, compass, GPS

MX500: ultrasonic wind speed and direction, pressure, temperature, relative humidity, compass, GPS

MX300: pressure, temperature, relative humidity (no compass or GPS)

MX200: ultrasonic wind speed and direction, compass, GPS

For models with wind sensors, measurements are automatically compensated using the compass and GPS readings.

Data can be monitored with WeatherMaster Software, a touchscreen Weather Display console, and/or the Weather MicroServer for Internet and SCADA protocols. The Weather MicroServer also offers additional sensor ports.

Click through to Magellan MX Vehicle-Mount Weather Stations

Click through to Magellan MX Portable Weather Stations

Click through to Magellan MX Fixed-Base Weather Stations

Click to check out all CWS Vehicle-Mount Weather Stations

Bomb Response Vehicle built by Farber Specialty Vehicles.

Bomb Response Vehicle

Mobile response and incident command vehicles are outfitted with easy-to-deploy vehicle-mount weather stations.

Often we sell our weather stations to third-parties like vehicle manufacturers and we don't always get to see where they end up. Some deliveries on Officer.com came to our attention recently noting that they were equipped with Columbia Weather Systems weather stations.

This Bomb Response Vehicle was built by our customer Farber Specialty Vehicles. Another is a Mobile Command Center for Nevada County (Calif.) Sheriff's Department by Mobile Command Centers.

At Columbia Weather Systems, government agencies and public safety have been core markets for our company for many years. We offer portable and vehicle-mount configurations that were developed by a former Air Force meteorologist specifically for the public safety market. Our job is to make weather monitoring easy so you can do your job.

Click through to the Bomb Response Vehicle on Officer.com

Click through to the Mobile Command Center on Officer.com

Click to see TVF&R HazMat application

Click to check out Vehicle-Mount Weather Stations

Weather MicroServer

Weather MicroServer offers many features for serving data over a network with hardened ports to minimized security risks.

We recently received this query from a customer performing due diligence:

I am doing some research for CIPv5 on the Orion LX Weather Station (with Weather MicroServer). Are there any ‘system hardening’ techniques that the device has that would prevent any malicious code from being loaded into these systems?

Network security has become increasingly critical for some companies and organizations. Security breaches at private, public, and military organizations have been in the news prompting efforts to secure networks. Some organizations may be reluctant or unable to add our Weather MicroServer to their networks.

A new FAQ page offers solutions including a new document outlining network security with the Weather MicroServer as well as suggestions for keeping the weather station off the network entirely.

Click through to Weather Stations and Network Security FAQ

All-in-one weather sensors

New family of Orion sensor options

Great changes are coming to the Orion – our most popular weather station model. One of the best features has always been the all-in-one sensor head design, however with the limitation of the standard sensors – whether you needed a particular parameter or not, you got them all.

Now you can pick and choose just the parameters you need and still have the convenience of the all-in-one sensor configuration.

Our new line of Orion weather stations includes the following sensor options:

  • Orion 531 with impact rain gauge only
  • Orion 532 (aka Orion LT) with ultrasonic wind direction and speed only
  • Orion 533 with rainfall, wind direction and speed
  • Orion 534 with pressure, temperature, humidity
  • Orion 535 with pressure, temperature, humidity, rainfall
  • Orion complete with pressure, temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind direction and speed

Click to learn more about Orion Weather Stations

Visibility Sensor installation

Photo courtesy of Construction Innovations

We have integrated a new visibility sensor option into weather stations utilizing the Weather MicroServer. This was accomplished in response to a customer need for solar-powered weather station solution used in monitoring large-scale solar energy facilities.

The visibility sensor is mounted on a tripod mast along with the solar radiation sensors, solar power panel, and weatherproof enclosures for the battery and Weather MicroServer.

For more information click for the Weather MicroServer Page