1 866 625 8620
Miller, Consulting Meteorologist
appeared in the Oregon City Argus on March 28, 1857: "Mr. Meriam,
the distinguished meteorologist of Brooklyn, who for many years
has taken hourly observations on the thermometer and barometer,
now adds his testimony. He says, 'With all my practical experience
in observing atmospheric changes, and recording hour by hour and
day by day thermometrical and meteorological observations, and connection
with simultaneous observations made and recorded elsewhere, I feel
more and more convinced that it is not in the power of any human
being to determine, even a single day in advance, what changes will
take place in the atmosphere.'" I only wish Mr. Meriam were alive
So much has
happened in the understanding of our atmosphere since 1857 that
meteorologists can, with increasing accuracy, determine more than
a single day in advance what the weather will be. How do they do
this? I remember one of my professors telling me in the late '50s
(that's the 1950s for you skeptics) that within 25 years all forecasts
would be made through a numerical understanding of the weather.
He was a bit ahead of his time, but he was close.
operates on a series of equations, or laws of physics. No, you won't
be bored with their derivatives in this article. I have long forgotten
the equations of motion, conservation of energy, etc. I struggled
through those classes at the University of Washington, eager to
begin using my synoptic meteorology to forecast the weather. But
my synoptic (using the weather map and my local knowledge) meteorology
soon failed me.
that small air parcel forward in time
If the atmosphere
operates on equations, then mathematically those same equations
can be projected forward in time. (Calculus and differential equations!
Brrrr! The sound still scares me!) But first, the initial state
of the atmosphere must be measured. Some of you may be doing that
already. Thousands of observations of the weather are collected
locally at many locations and most are relayed in some manner to
the big computers in Washington, DC. that are operated by the National
Weather Service. These computers digest the data and project a parcel
of air forward in time.
If you have
a tile floor with a square pattern to it, imagine an observation
at each corner. Then, imagine several layers of tile, one on top
of another to the "top" of the atmosphere. That is how a computer
looks at these observations that are measured by radiosondes, satellites,
remote observing systems, radar, and even manually.
At each one
of these points, in three dimensions, the computer generates a value.
Then, through those laws of physics that I have forgotten, the computer
projects that small air parcel forward in time, raising it, lowering
it, adding moisture, changing its speed, etc. The computer does
this in very small steps. It is called numerical forecasting.
are what meteorologists call "forecast charts." These charts are
what the surface isobar pattern, the winds aloft pattern, and the
moisture content of the air should look like in 12, 24, 36, etc.,
hours. Now, just as your home computer has increased its ability
to contain data and make calculations over the last ten years, so
have these big computers in Washington, DC. And, the bigger they
get, the better they get. Most of the time now, it is hard to beat
their predictions, even out to ten days.
It's hard to
believe, but as early as the 1920s meteorologists were thinking
along the lines of numerical weather forecasting. But with computers?
Well, no. A man by the name of E.F. Richardson envisioned a large
room full of meteorologists, each with a slide rule. (For the under
30 set, check your dictionary for definition of a slide rule.) Each
meteorologist would make a calculation and pass that along to the
person sitting next to him. Oh, can you imagine the state of the
atmosphere if that person was on a coffee break??!! Mr. Richardson's
idea was right, but he was living at the wrong time. He should be
alive today to see how far numerical weather forecasting has advanced.
ago a ten-day forecast would have fallen into Mr. Meriam's camp.
Not today. Computers are able to foretell the major changes that
occur in our atmosphere from cool, cloudy and rainy weather to warm,
sunny and dry weather. Today's 48-hour, or two-day forecast is as
good as the 24-hour or one-day forecast was 20 years ago.
And now, when
you watch the weather people on television, they do not hesitate
to go out five days and more with their predictions. Yes, I know.
You still hear the forecast of, "Partly cloudy with a chance of
showers!" But that's another topic.
Grape Growers Assoc.:
Weather Monitoring Value
Wine grape growers
are among a rapidly-growing, high-value agricultural market that
relies on local, site-specific monitoring of meteorological parameters.
In February, Columbia Weather Systems exhibited at the
Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers conference in Pasco,
Washington. As our first trade-show in the wine grape growers market,
our main objective was to learn about the market, its requirements,
and how we can use the Capricorn weather stations to meet those
We were delighted
to meet a lot of growers and to see that there is a high level of
interest in local weather monitoring.
We were also
pleased to meet some growers who have our weather stations such
as Bob Brown from Canoe Ridge Vineyards. We had the opportunity
to answer customer questions and make them aware of system capabilities
to help them optimize the value of their weather stations.
Most from Your Weather Station
Many of our
customers in this industry use our weather stations as part of a
forecast network through ERF Company. They have the EWIN III version
of our Capricorn 2000 weather station.
The customers locate the weather station on their site and ERF polls
it regularly to gather data for forecast modeling. ERF provides
localized forecast information directly to the grower. Many growers
didn't realize that they can access their own current data as well.
(and EWIN III) weather stations have two RS232 ports. The ERF modem
uses one of these ports, the other is available for the customer
to access their on-site weather data for display on the Capricorn
2000 Display Console or on a computer with weather
software for display, database and analysis.
weather data is important for worker safety, application of chemicals,
and many other uses. In addition, the user can set alarm conditions
and be alerted when temperatures drop above or below a certain point,
wind speeds reach a certain level, or any number of additional alarm
One of the main
parameters that we were most asked about is growing degree-days.
Generally, degree-day is a measure of the departure of the mean
daily temperature from a given standard: one degree day for each
degree (░C or ░F) of departure above (or below) the standard during
one day. Degree day accumulation is used primarily as a tool for
pest and disease modeling and control.
are accumulated over a "season" at any point during which the total
can be used as an index of past temperature effect upon some quantity,
such as plant growth, pest and disease emergence, fuel consumption,
degree-day is referred to as growing degree-day. The base temperature
is dependent on the type of crop or pest and disease.
Using the Capricorn
2000 weather station, degree-day is calculated using the Weather
Display console (Ag Edition) and/or WeatherView 32 software.
32 weather station software, degree-day is displayed in the
NOAA style monthly report shown below:
The report displays
daily mean, high and low temperatures and their time of occurrence,
heat and cool degree day, rain amount, average and high wind speed
and direction. The report also displays additional temperature and
edition of the Capricorn 2000 Weather Display is designed to calculate
complex parameters such as evapotranspiration and degree days to
help farm and vineyard managers make decisions affecting agricultural
Display unit displays degree day for the day, degree day for yesterday
and degree day accumulation.
The user can
set the starting day for the accumulation and the base temperature.
The user will also be able to look up the degree day accumulation
between any two dates in the year.
In order to
have all the information needed for ET and DD calculations, the
Ag Edition Display requires a Capricorn 2000MP with solar
radiation sensor. Contact us for upgrade information.
Water Usage with Soil Moisture Monitoring
provided by Jack Hillen, President, AquaPro Sensors
Probe and Moisture Meter. Black bands are depth markings.
knows water is the most precious resource in agriculture. And, like
other scarce commodities, its price goes up and up each year. Add
to that the energy costs involved in getting water to your crops,
and it becomes apparent that gone are the days of guessing how much
to irrigate. Who, especially in the arid West, can afford to continue
with the age-old method of "better safe than sorry", where you drench
everything just to be sure the plants are getting enough? No, those
who want to stay in the business (and it is a business after all)
need to focus on precision management; not the least important element
of which is water management.
water management, Columbia Weather Systems offers AquaPro brand
soil moisture sensors.
monitoring and data logging the Direct Burial Sensor can connect
to the Capricorn 2000MP weather station. It is permanently installed
directly in the soil.
can also be used to help automate irrigation with the the AquaPro
Moisture Controller. The Moisture Controller runs on 24 volts AC
and can control up to 5 solenoid valves. A dial allows the user
to set the moisture level they wish to maintain. When the water
penetrates to the level of the sensor, it will turn the water off,
and when it dries out beyond the point you have set, it will turn
the water on. One sensor and one controller are all that is needed
per irrigation block.
moisture levels in several areas throughout your property, the AP
Portable Probe is a handheld capacitance sensor. It is inserted
into access tubes, which are installed permanently in the ground,
and gives continuous digital readings (not preset levels) from the
surface down to any root depth. The readings are displayed on a
large LCD on the Moisture Meter, which is a handheld microprocessor
that converts the sensor's signal into an easy to understand percentage,
where 0 percent is bone dry and 100 percent is saturation with accuracy
of +/- 1 percent. The Moisture Meter runs on a standard 9volt battery,
which powers the portable probe and is also used to calibrate the
probe to your specific soil.
The access tubes
are specially extruded polycarbonate tubes 1-meter long and 1-inch
in diameter. The bottoms are sealed, and they come with caps to
keep out rain and irrigation water.
of the access tubes is very simple, and anyone can do it in about
10 minutes. An auger is supplied with the basic start up package
to make holes up to one meter deep, as the standard tubes are one
meter long. Bore a hole to the depth desired, and then fill the
hole about halfway with water. Next, use the auger to mix in soil,
the same as what came out of the hole, until the hole is filled
with mud the consistency of wet cement. Insert the access tube into
the hole so the mud oozes up around it to form a nice solid contact.
Since the tube is in saturated mud, insert the probe into the tube
and calibrate it by pressing two buttons on the Moisture Meter.
The probe knows what 0 percent is from the factory settings, and
now it knows what 100 percent is for your soil. This is the only
calibration necessary and it is stored in the sensor's permanent
memory; now the rest of the tubes can be simply installed.
The AP Portable
Probe is a very user-friendly system, and it is also very economical.
The complete start up package sells for $749.95 and includes10 access
tubes. This gives you ten moisture monitoring stations, each 1-meter
deep, for about the cost of a dozen tensiometers. All you need is
one probe and one meter for as many locations as you want to measure,
and you can quickly get a complete moisture profile of your entire
are excellent tools for those who don't want to invest thousands
of dollars and/or have technicians advise you when you should water.
The power and the knowledge are in your hands, because the more
you know, the more you grow!
2000 Display Adds Aviation Edition
Edition of the Capricorn 2000 Weather Display is designed
to give pilots and airport operators more than just standard
environmental conditions such as temperature, winds speed
weather display provides disperse-relevant information to
help pilots take off and land. It provides complex calculated
parameters such as density altitude which is particularly
useful for high elevation airports. It also displays additional
wind speed and direction charts.
altitude is a meteorological variable that is important to
pilots, especially during the summer. The density altitude
is the altitude in a standard atmosphere where the density
is the same as the given atmospheric density. During a hot
muggy summer day, a pilot begins take off from an airport
with an elevation of 2500 feet. Because of the warm temperature
and the moisture in the air, the airplane has to work as if
it was taking off at an airport at an elevation of 6000 feet
resulting in the plane needing more power and a longer roll
down the runway to take off.
shows the wind direction for the last hour. This chart is
useful in determining the prevailing wind for the last hour.
shows the direction and distance the wind has traveled in
the last hour. The scale of the chart and units are displayed
at the bottom of the chart.
Average and Gust Calculations
Aviation Edition, the user has the flexibility of defining
the interval for the wind speed average. The available range
is from 1 to 60 minutes.
the user can also define the interval for the wind speed and
direction gust. The available range is from 5 to 60 minutes.
Report: Wash. Assoc. of Wine Grape Growers
mentioned on page 1, Nader and I had the good fortune
to attend the yearly convention of the Washington Association
of Wine Grape Growers. Besides the great food and Washington
State wine, this convention was very informative.
had a steady stream of traffic at our booth and were
only able to get away for one workshop "What Our Future
Looks Like: Evolving Computer Technology for Wine Grape
Production." This covered the technology that one could
use to analyze crop production including GPS instruments,
satellites, and weather monitoring equipment. One of
the major points was that 20-30 percent of the vineyard
will yield 70 percent of the profits. This is why it
is so critical to gather detailed data throughout the
of us know that air temperatures can be significantly
different between north and south-facing slopes, but
I have some interesting statistical data to back that
up. For a reference point we are looking at a 30-degree
slope on June 21 and measuring solar radiation units.
The south-facing slope receives 1200 units of solar
radiation from 10:00 am till about 2:00 pm. The north-facing
slope will receive only 800 solar units from 8:00 am
till about 2:00 pm. The north-facing slope receives
about 33% less solar radiation than the south-facing
slope. Some interesting numbers.
conference attendees were interested in real time weather
information available on Washington State Internet locations.
There are many sites: Public Agricultural Weather Systems
(PAWS) is a fee based system with lots of detail. The
Bureau of Reclamation Agrimet-Hydro Met stations and
Washington State Department of Transportation also post
Weather Systems is considering a web site that would
contain real time weather information from some of our
many agricultural customers. The site could contain
relevant weather data for selected vineyards such as
growing degree days, evapotranspiration, dewpoint, temperature,
wind, rain, highs and lows, and relative humidity. We
will keep you advised of these developments. Please
contact us if you would like to participate.
Fagin, field representative for Columbia Weather Systems
can be reached at 1 877-969-4786, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can visit his Washington Online Weather web site
II and II Plus: First Price Hike in 10 Years
has been about 10 years since we've raised prices on
the Capricorn II and II Plus weather stations. During
that time, inflation has increased steadily and the
cost of components has increased dramatically. The Capricorn
II and II Plus remain, however, very popular in our
Capricorn line of reliable weather stations.
make these products cost-effective for us to manufacture,
we are obliged to raise their prices. The base price
for Capricorn II Plus will rise to $1862 and the Capricorn
II will be $1520. For an updated price schedule, please