Climate and Weather Resources

Those of you who follow my blog probably have notice I have more than a passing interest in climate and weather.  Part of that is enjoying the beauty of the sky as it changes from minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day.  Here is an example of that from a recent trip to the Oregon coast.

I actually  experimented with making a time lapse of this sunset that is saved as Power Point show on my Google documents page if you want to see the whole thing.

To some extent, the interest in weather has always  been there;  Mom told me that I found an article in a children’s encyclopedia when I was in 2nd grade about how to build your own weather station and set out to do just that.  I vaguely remember getting frustrated with the anemometer I built from sticks and ping pong balls that I had cut in half because I could not figure out how to correlate how fast it was spinning with an actual wind speed.  But I guess for a while there, I made quite an effort to measure and document rain fall, wind direction, cloud cover and types.

Childhood and intellectual past times aside, my interest in weather has served me well over the years.  Some of you may know that my formal training was in aeronautics and in the course of that, I became a pilot.  Believe me, paying attention (or not) to the weather can have a major impact on your life in that field of endeavor.

But it also turns out that it has been very useful in the profession I have found myself in.  In many ways, HVAC is all about trying to control the climate in the built environment.  And to be able to do that successfully, you have to spend some time trying to understand natural environment outside the envelope of your facility.  As a result, most of my classes have some content on climate. 

Recently, a number of people have been asking me for the links to the resources I use, so I decided to do a blog post or two on the topic to share that information.  I have also done some posts in the past on weather related topics and resources, so I’ll start by linking you up with those items in this post, then move on from there.  Incidentally, these are in no particular order.

Extreme Weather; Your Winter Wonderland can be a Facilities Engineer’s Worst Nightmare  was a post I wrote while being snowed in during a major (for Portland) winter snow storm that includes links to resources and talks about how extreme weather can be a real disaster if you are facility operator, especially if nobody planned for it or thought about it.

Resources for the Resourceful; Comparing Climates looks at the CitiData website where you can compare climate patterns and other information about various cities.  This one is a good one to know about for planning trips in addition to professionally for understanding climate.

Resources for the Resourceful; Current versus Normal and Extreme Climate Data  looks at a resource that is becoming more widespread on the National Weather Service web sites.  Specifically, nomographs comparing actual vs. normal and extreme temperature and precipitation are showing up for major cities with the information going back at least 10 years in one instance where I checked it.  It actually went back further than that, but I ran out of time and stopped at that point.

Resources for the Resourceful; Free Hourly Weather Data looks at how you can access hourly weather data for the past three to seven days and load it into Excel with just a couple of key-strokes.

Resources for the Resourceful – A Free Degree Day Resource looks at a web site where you can obtain degree-day data tailored to your specifications in terms of location, date range, and base temperature.  Related to this, a subsequent post links you to a Utility Analysis spreadsheet tool from the California Commissioning Collaborative that normalizes utility data and allows you to compare it to things like degree day data, a handy resource if you are scoping out retrocommissioning opportunities or making sure your energy efficiency improvements persist.

Resources for the Resourceful; Understanding Warm and Cold Fronts seems to be one of my more popular posts, at least recently based on the stats for the blog.  In it, I look at warm and cold fronts and provide links to several classic papers on polar front theory.  Related to this, a shared document on my Google Documents site titled Micro-climates, Frontal Passages, and Measuring Outdoor Air Conditions includes data documenting a frontal passage through Portland one day.  Its part of a little write-up I did after a lab session at the Pacific Energy Center where we were trying to measure outdoor conditions and got a bunch of different answers.

In closing, I’ll return to the somewhat whimsical and romantic view of the climate that I started out with and refer you to The Cloud Appreciation Society web site.

Kathy (my bride), Arabella (my oldest granddaughter) and I are full fledged members of the Society with all rights thereto appertaining and I highly recommend membership as well as the books you will find listed there.   The photo gallery is pretty cool too.

David Sellers
Senior Engineer – Facility Dynamics Engineering

Click here for an index to previous posts

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