Draper’s amateur meteorologists give customized weather reports
The weather has been so weird lately. Heard that before? People are obsessed with weather these days. Not satisfied with the limits of general and often-inaccurate area forecasts, many of us want to know what is happening in our own backyard. Draper’s amateur meteorologists deliver the goods. Here are three locals who broadcast the data from their weather stations on WeatherUnderground.com
WeatherUnderground.com Station ID: KUTDRAPE59
South Mountain’s Ryan Hawley thinks of himself as a geek. He plays virtual video games, installs cameras everywhere and dissects computers. He’s also a self-described weather geek who constantly monitors the weather thanks to his weather station.
“He’s actually kind of a dork,” says his wife, Erin. “He wanted to know how often to water the grass, so he bought a weather station…” For clarification purposes, Hawley defines a geek as someone who wants to “know things, who really gets into things, but is social.” A dork is what a wife lovingly calls a geek, he adds.
His weather station—an AcuRite Pro Weather Center—is synced to his “smart” Rachio sprinkler system. It uses the station’s data to compute when and how much to water. “It saves me money, too,” notes Hawley, since South Mountain is on culinary water unlike other parts of Draper, which use irrigation water.
Hawley comes from a family of educators and grew up constantly tinkering with things, so much so that he was often late for dates with his future wife. She quickly learned that technology would be a part of their lives together, as well as weather watching. That’s because ever since Hawley was a kid growing up in Richfield, he was curious about the temperature outside and in awe of the power of spring rains, which came down in giant swaths.
Weather, he says, is an intriguing subject because “it is always the topic of conversation. I mean, you need to know the weather in order to know what to wear, right?”
His weather station, nicknamed “The Yacht” by his wife because it looks like a mini version of one, is anchored onto his roof. Hawley checks out his WeatherUnderground.com app and notes how his neighbor’s weather station a few blocks northeast registers the temperature as five degrees cooler than his station. Temperatures as well as wind speed can vary slightly with Draper’s WeatherUnderground.com site locations, he says, but only a few are really off the mark.
To make sure he’s not missing anything interesting rolling across the valley, Hawley installed a webcam on his roof so he can watch from his work in Orem, too. Pictures are broadcast on WeatherUnderground.com for all to see. He likes that it’s easy to share weather data with anyone, including his wife.
“I don’t usually look at my weather app anymore,” his wife says. “I just say, ‘Honey, what’s the weather?’”
WeatherUnderground.com Station ID: KUTDRAPE21
Who says the neighbors aren’t watching? Jeff Goodwin knows his Suncrest neighbors certainly are—they’re watching his weather station’s forecasts.
“My weather station typically gets close to 150 or 200 views a month,” he says. “I am not surprised if 30 or more of those are my views, but it does show that people are taking advantage of the weather station’s data.”
His weather station—a solar powered, fully automated Davis Vantage Vue—is secured on the roof and when it occasionally stops working, he gets text messages from neighbors letting him know.
Goodwin is glad that his neighbors are actively engaged in weather watching, because, as he puts it, “We have our own kind of weather up here in Suncrest”—notably cooler temperatures and stronger winds.
From his home overlooking Utah Valley, he has seen all kinds of weather and is fascinated by anomalies such as double rainbows and the 2017 Mother’s Day snowstorm. That garden killer arrived with lightning and caked the north side of his home in snow and ice. His weather station recorded 72 mph winds. “Fortunately, the roof survived,” he quips.
Goodwin credits his 7th-grade earth science class as the start of his meteorology interest, in particular, his fascination with the classroom’s old-fashioned barometer that was outfitted with a paper spool and ink pen that moved in relation to changes in atmospheric pressure. Around the same time, his parents purchased a weather radio for their Rochester, N.Y. home, and he’d raptly listen to reports of storms over Lake Ontario. After college, he moved to San Diego with its delightfully mild, but boring-to-watch weather.
When he relocated to Draper for work, he thought the weather here would be seasonally consistent. But Mother Nature surprised him with summertime thunderstorms that rolled across Utah Valley, providing nightly entertainment. At his kitchen table or on his balcony, he’d take in the show.
“Up here,” he says, “it’s like watching the weather from a plane.”
WeatherUnderground.com Station ID: KUTDRAPE55
While working at his downtown Salt Lake City office, Sean McCaman likes to keep an eye on the weather back at his Suncrest home.
“I usually check a couple times a day,” he says of his weather station’s data which is broadcast on the weatherunderground.com site. He also sees what’s happening thanks to the weathercam (SuncrestInfo.com) that he installed in a north-facing window overlooking Salt Lake Valley. It offers minute-by-minute screenshots of the sky for him—and anyone else—to see.
Basically, he likes to know what to expect for the commute back home.
When it comes to weather watching, McCaman enjoys applying weather data to his daily life, from his commute to home efficiency. He gathers temperature data at different locations in the house to study where the insulation works best. And there is personal satisfaction in knowing that when his back begins to ache, there is, as he always suspected, a change-in-weather connection. “I feel the shift in my back and my weather station validates it” with a drop in barometric pressure.
As a boy, he started weather-watching for an elective Boy Scouts’ merit badge and got hooked. While growing up in San Bruno, near San Francisco’s airport, a balmy place with lots of “fog and airplanes,” he received his first weather station. After moving to Utah, that station was “eaten alive by the weather.” He upgraded to a more substantial weather station—an Ambient Weather WS-1001-WiFi—with a lot of features to record Suncrest’s different and sometimes wild weather.
“Most weather data comes from the airport. It can be raining at the airport, while a foot of snow is getting dumped in Suncrest,” he says.
As a transplant, McCaman enjoys Utah’s seasons, but found this year’s winter and spring challenging with the seemingly constant snow. However, a break in the monotony was provided by May’s Mother Day storm that brought 70 miles per hour winds and, as a bonus, a homeless beach ball that blew around his yard for weeks. Before it flew away, he wrote a message on the ball asking whoever finds it to reply on the Facebook Suncrest group page. So far, no one has.
Reporting lost beach balls, and more importantly weather data, on WeatherUnderground.com and on the Suncrest info page, he says, is a fun way to connect with the other residents in his area.
“Weather,” he says, “is a community thing. We all experience it.”