The past few years have seen a huge rise in the number of personal weather stations popping up in assorted places like back gardens, offices, farms, factories and plant nurseries. Some of the commercial locations you can understand why they might want to monitor the weather, watering crops and seedlings is crucial to the health of the plants. Being able to check how much rain has fallen and when the last rain was can enable the grower to make a much more informed decision as to when irrigation is required. Too much irrigation and water is wasted costing money and may reduce reserves. Too little and crops will be less healthy or wiped out again giving the grower financial problems.
The case for having a weather station to assist in commerce is very understandable but why would so many people look to have a weather station at home, erected at their own expense and maintaining it year on year? The explanation is as varied as the number of people who buy them. Some like to fly kites or model aircraft and drones, others go hill walking, flying, camping and other activities which are affected by the weather. Many of the current weather stations have solar powered sensors and can update their data to the internet (much as this web site does) so that judgements can be made as to the viability of practicing the activity.
There are some hobbies which have a link with weather that you might not have thought of for example amateur radio. Do what now? Amateur radio (or ham radio) is a hobby
whereby when a person has gained certain levels of technical ability they can be licensed by their country's communications authority to transmit and experiment with radio
signals. I am a licensed amateur and have been since 1972 when I was 15 years old. My initial license only allowed me to transmit on VHF, frequencies which are higher than the FM stereo radios we use to listen to Radio 4 (Other radio stations are available too, I believe!) These VHF signals are normally restricted to line of sight especially on the very highest frequencies. However, there are times when, because of the effects of the weather, the range can be increased to thousands of miles. Having a network of PWS feeding weather data enables these enhancements to be predicted with greater accuracy leading to increased understanding about how these signals propogate.
Although a rather disparaging term for people who have an interest in the weather I don't mind using it because I am one myself.The weather geeks are those people who have a strong interest in things meteorological and look to increase their understanding of their local weather (micro climate) as well as national and international phenomena.
The earth's weather is an immensly complex system with variables introduced by solar activity, terrain, latitude, proximity to oceans and urban areas to name but a few. Many in the UK will have encountered the fog tunnels which can occur in the autumn. These are areas of mist or fog that don't quite reach the ground but stop about 3 metres above it. Alternatively the experience of rain on one side of a hill but not the other might tweak one's curiosity as to why and lead the investigative to start trying to find how this occurs.
Coming to an understanding of some weather phenomena, no matter how superficial, can cause people to want to learn more. Until recently the cost of the equipment was prohibitive for all but the most ardent (and financially comfortable) enthusiast. But even before the advent of the microelectronic weather stations many enthusiasts recorded daily the readings on their mechanical analogue equipment. Some purists still do this but most have either enhanced their manual station or replaced it completely with technology.
The upshot to the question why have a PWS is because I want to and I can. If you have a small or big interest in the weather and you feel like it then do it. A simple console based model can be bought locally or online for less than £90. If your interest and budget stretch a little further then you can consider models that will link to the internet and upload data to weather websites (you can even create your own one like this one. The different weather station options are discussed in another chapter.