It started with a simple indoor/outdoor temperature device; one inside unit and one outside transmitter. Cost? About five bucks. No wait, that’s not entirely accurate. The very first was a basic hang-it-on-a-stump temperature dial, no batteries, no sender, no receiver. To know the temp and weather, you looked out the window then checked the sky for signs of rain. Basic. I should have stopped there.
But when a neighborhood garage sale had an electronic rain gauge sitting on the table, brand new, in the box, for a mere pittance, I had to have it. All my life, I had emptied outdoor rain gauges after every rain except when it turned cold and forgotten and the ice shattered the glass. But this little jewel operated with a rocker arm and two cups inside a housing. When the rain came, one of the cups would fill with water, tilt, dump the water, and the other cup would take over. Every tilt represented, oh I don’t know, something like, .08 inches of rain. A teeny, tiny electrical signal was sent through the air to the receiver sitting on your mantle. This meant that on rainy days, you could sit there, sipping whisky, and watch the rain come down .08 inches at a time. Oh, did I mention that it also had a clock and an inside thermometer? Way cool.
It wasn’t all that much later that I ran across an ad for another weather device, this one made by LaCross Technology, that had not only a clock, an inside/outside thermometer, but with the extra added attraction of a humidity indicator and a forecaster. Yes, a forecaster. An arrow icon pointed up or down. Up, with a flashing sun meant good weather ahead. There was even a smiley face to confirm it. A down arrow meant take cover, or so I assumed. Beyond cool. What more could a man want?
Wal-Mart answered that question. Right there on the shelf was a huge On Sale sign for a Weather Channel Deluxe Weather Station marked down to a mere $44.95. It had an indoor/outdoor thermometer, time and date, a self-dumping rain gauge, rain history, forecaster (complete with up and down arrows), barometric pressure indicator, pressure history, humidity, and marvel of marvels, a freakin’ wind gauge with wind speed, wind chill, and wind direction. Holy Zeus! I had to have one.
There were a couple of minor problems though. I did not own the recommended thirty foot pole on an unobstructed area where I was instructed to mount the spinning cups for the wind gauge. The rain gauge? Well, it too had to be on a flat surface, also in an open area. My simple solution was to dig a hole in the ground, stick a landscaping timber in it, nail a piece of 1×4 across the top of the timber, and voila, a weather center. It looked good.The wind gauge didn’t work right of course. the swirling winds from the corner of the house confused the poor little thing, but it did spin like mad.
And wouldn’t you know it? With two self-dumping rain gauges, the amounts differ. Not by much, but enough to raise the question, how much did it really rain last night? Temps? As I write this, I have readings of 62.9, 61.4, and 61.7. All sensors are in the shade. Who you gonna believe? However, I do have two up arrows, both with smiley faces.
So why does it look like rain?