It's not as grand as it sounds - some would say it's just a collection of cranky old bits of plastic whirring away in the wind and connected to a computer (and that wouldn't be too far from the truth) but it does its job. As a child, the weather both fascinated and annoyed me - why did it always rain when I was going fishing?
It wasn't until 1979 when I learnt to fly that I had my first lessons on what was actually happening up there and I found that it was really not that difficult to understand at all. My first attempt at building a weather station wasn't that successful though; if I wanted to see how fast the wind had been blowing overnight then I usually could tell by how far the down the garden I found the remains of the weather station!
Why bother to have a weather station at all some people ask - after all any fool can stick his head out of the window and see what the weather is doing. The reason is simple - once you can recognise weather patterns (as measured by Ampthill weather station) then you can see what will happen next. It may be a sunny morning but the wispy high cloud you can see on the web cam coupled with an increasing southwesterly wind and a rapidly falling barometer reading would probably tell me that it wasn't a good evening to invite friends round for a BBQ.....
By understanding how weather works allows you to get much more out of the weather forecasts on TV. I very quickly got fed up with friends (who knew I had a keen interest in the weather) saying 'Oh the forecasters got it badly wrong again today' - when the day had turned out much as I had expected it to. Of course from time to time the weathermen do get it wrong - Michael Fish will always be remembered for predicting that 'there won't be a hurricane' just before extremely high winds felled great swathes of trees across the UK!
The real problem is that the forecaster has to explain the whole country's weather to us in just a few minutes. Weather travels at a slow speed so weather that that may affect Manchester at 9am may well not affect Ampthill until after dark. Years ago, professional forecasters such as Bill Giles may have had the ability to convey this to us. But as all things in this politically correct country of ours are more and more dumbed down, our new weather presenters are really just not up to the job.
So a knowledge of how the weather works allows you to put in the fine detail yourself and avoid unnecessary surprises. There are all sorts of weather resources on the Internet to help you with your detailed local forecast and I have given you access to as many as I can on the main menu above. Satellite pictures and pressure charts clearly show where weather systems are and which way they are moving. Rainfall radar plots give real-time information on where it is raining now and if the rain is heading your way. Other weather stations such as airports issue reports at regular intervals and help you to chart a front's progress across the country. If you really want to know then there are many tools to help you.
Weather stones are available for purchase on the internet but here is my first money saving metrological tip for you:- ANY STONE WILL ACTUALLY WORK!
Suspend the weather stone in the open, hanging it from a suitable post by a piece of string
Place the following notice underneath
CONDITION OF STONE WEATHER CONDITIONS
The stone is wet It is raining
The stone is dry It is not raining
The stone is swinging It is windy
The stone is white on top It is snowing
The stone is expanding It is getting warmer
The stone is contracting It is getting colder
The stone casts a shadow It is sunny
I can't see the stone It is foggy
The post & stone have gone Recent tornado