I have purposely focused the accompanying piece to show you that the pastime of weather watching can be enjoyed for free or at very little cost. I like to enjoy weather watching with minimal expense, but I have spent some money on field guides and other books which enhance my understanding of what I experience. I also often carry a camera and film with me because I seek that perfect weather photograph to hang on my wall, one which will make folks say "Wow!"
I also have some weather instruments: several barometers, a windsock, a Kestrel 3000 weather meter and a UVB meter. I would have a thermometer outside my apartment, but my balcony faces south and is nearly always in the sun, not good exposure for obtaining accurate temperatures, and the high winds blew away the one I did mount.
Here is a short list of some items that may enhance your weather watching experience.
Beyond that I know of few other overall weather watching guide books. (Maybe I'll write one.) If you are looking for information beyond a field guide, however, there are several good introductory and technical weather books. If you know of any, I would appreciate hearing about them. For reviews of some of my recommended books, see the Book Reviews section of this site and visit the Weather Doctor Bookstore To order any of the books below, just click on the title.
Weatherwise, a bi-monthly periodical published by Heldref Publications.
Observing Equipment: Optical equipment is usually not a necessity for weather watching, although at times there are advantages to using binoculars. Perhaps most useful can be a good pair of sunglasses with polarizing lenses. Besides protecting your eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays and the bright sun, sunglasses eliminate excessive glare under a bright sky. Polarizing lenses can sharpen sky features by eliminating some of the scattered light rays which produce glare.
Scientific Weather Measuring Instruments: A variety of scientific instruments can enhance the enjoyment of weather watching. Complete home weather stations with computer readouts can be expensive. However, you can equip a simple home weather station for very low cost. (As a kid, I built simple weather instruments out of everyday items using milk cartons, eye droppers, coat hangers and human hairs.) Thermometers and barometers can be bought at garage sales and secondhand stores. A good wind indicator is a wind sock, which can be made or purchased at most toy or novelty stores. (They are fun to watch too!)
A number of useful instruments can be purchased from specialty shops or hardware/garden stores.
Recording Equipment: A pen and field notebook are important to many weather watchers, some keeping detailed daily weather diaries. Artists may carry sketch pads or painting equipment to the field to record weather events. Others jot down poems or impressions of a scene. I like a camera around for capturing that special sunset or magnificent cloud formation. Some folks, mostly storm chasers, prefer to carry a video camera to capture the event.
Special Equipment: Some weather watchers, such as storm chasers, want to have some idea of what type of weather is pending and where it may occur so they can plan their weather watching activity. There is a lot of material available on the Internet as aids in planning a weather outing: a host of forecast products, satellite photos and weather radar data. Weather radio can be a help as well. In fact, a simple portable AM radio makes a good thunderstorm indicator. Tune it to a frequency away from local stations and listen for the static. Lightning, miles away from view, will reveal itself as static bursts. The louder the bursts, the closer the stroke; and the temporal frequency of bursts can give some indication of the strength or size of the storms.
To purchase weather radio units and special NOAA storm warning radios from Amazon.com, click here.
OTHER LINKS TO AIDS TO WEATHERWATCHING
Barometers, Thermometers, Wind and Other Instruments
Wind Chimes, Wind Socks and Wind Vanes
Wind Chimes can aid weatherwatching and add the enjoyment of hearing the wind.
Order one of the many interesting designs from Amazon.com today! To see their good selection, click here:Wind Chimes
A wide variety of Wind Chimes, Wind Socks and Wind Vanes can also be found at:
Other Aids To Weather Enjoyment
Weather Graphics Technology offers a variety of PC tools for weather map and imagery analysis. They include:
DIGITAL ATMOSPHERE; WEATHERGRAPHIX; RAOB; and GLOBAL TRACKS. Digital Atmosphere, for example, provides the ability to view current weather conditions around the world in detail. Digital Atmosphere supports surface and upper level data, and offers a wide variety of contouring, climatology, and calculation features.
Wind Chill and Humidex Calculator
For a handy wind chill and Humidex calculator for your computer, visit the Environment Canada website (http://www.msc.ec.gc.ca/education/windchill/calculator_e.cfm) and download the software indicated in the Calculator section of the page. This calculator uses the new windchill index introduced in North America in 2001 and the official Canadian Humidex for hot weather discomfort.
Wind Chill Calculator - Imperial Units
For a wind chill calculator and table for temperatures in degrees Fahrenheit and wind speed in miles per hour, visit the US National Weather Service website (http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/windchill/) and download the page which has a calculator at the bottom. (It also gives the old windchill level as a comparison.)
Learn More From These Relevant Books Chosen by The Weather Doctor