How it's made: How the Experts Enhance Weather Station Data

As part of the How It’s Made series, we go under the hood of weather forecasting. The series explores the Five Categories that create an accurate, reliable forecast.  Each article in the series is a stand-alone story, but together they explain

In the First Category: Weather observations, we discuss the main types of observation networks, outlining how they work and exploring how they contribute to your weather forecast.

 

Download your copy of "How It’s Made: The Ultimate Guide to Weather Forecasting" below:


Download Now

 

 

Weather stations are physical locations equipped with standardized instruments to measure the local weather conditions. Primarily, they measure precipitation, wind speed, temperature, cloudiness, visibility and other atmospheric conditions.

In isolation, a single weather station is useful; it tells us what the weather is in a precise location. However, when observation data from multiple weather stations are combined together as a network of data points, they become a powerful mechanism to help weather experts to forecast the weather.


What type of data available from weather stations
 

“MeteoGroup uses only high-quality observations, wherever possible, and is transparent about how that data is processed. We manage a weather station network covering Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Luxemburg and provide global coverage with data from 20,000 stations worldwide.”
– Wim van den Berg, Senior meteorological consultant | Weather Tech Team


Two types of data are available from weather stations: observed data and converted data. Observed data are collected from a range of different weather stations, including:

  • Weather stations that provide core meteorological and observation data, e.g. air temperature, wind speed, and atmospheric pressure
  • Road weather stations (RWIS) provide road-specific data, e.g. road-surface temperature
  • Marine buoys and platforms provide nautical weather data, e.g. wave height
  • Specific stations provide data as diverse as global radiation, soil temperature, and snow depth
  • Webcams that provide images from weather stations or third parties, e.g. highway authorities

 

Converted data are transformed from observation data and include:

  • Aggregated data provide measures such as the sum, mean, maximum or minimum
  • Derived data are created using algorithms, e.g. humidity measures or diffuse radiation
  • Additional information layers, e.g. astronomical elements like sun/moon rise and set times

 

Weather experts will only use reliable data sources, like local Met Offices. Where possible, they invest in multiple sources to correlate results. This approach helps to improve the location coverage and quality of data.  They will also complete the observational data from weather stations with other sources to create an accurate view.

 

How weather experts improve the data: The Six-Step Process To Improve Observational Data

 

As well as investing in reliable data sources, weather experts also use a robust Six-Step Process to clean the data and optimize it for forecasting:

Step 1: Preparing the data for processing, where the data is decoded and checked for quality
 

Step 2: Perform near real-time consistency check against the most recent site-specific statistical forecast, then errors or inconsistencies are removed.
 

Step 3: Unique derived elements are added, for example, cloud cover
 

Step 4: Apply daily and seasonal consistency check against historical data sets, which go back to 1950s
 

Step 5: Computation of aggregated and climate elements, including 24-hour precipitation amount
 

Step 6: Customer specific visualization elements added, translating observational data into weather symbol sets used in media, TV, and online.

 

How to identify accurate weather stations sources

 

While this post mainly focuses on how the weather experts use and enhance data from weather stations, accurate weather forecasts rely on accurate data sources.

Weather station data can be categorized into three quality bands: High, moderate and uncertain. These bands help identify which sources are more likely to be accurate and reliable.


Type: High quality

Characteristics: Data is provided from reliable sources, with quality assurance

Types of weather station: Includes primary networks, operated by National Meteorological Services; weather station networks owned and operated by private weather companies; and secondary networks, operated by National Meteorological Institutes

 

Type: Moderate quality

Characteristics: Data comes from a secondary source, with no agreed service level

Types of weather station: Reports provided by airports; reports provided from wind farms, offshore platforms or ships; providers with their own observation network

 

Type: Uncertain quality

Characteristics: Data comes from a source without any quality assurance or service level

Types of weather station: Consumer weather stations participating in open networks like Wunderground or Netatmo; Connected devices like autonomous vehicles; road/rail condition sensors; or webcam data

 

How is this improved data used to create a forecast?

 

Data from weather stations is used alongside data from other observational networks, including satellite, radar and lightning, to help weather experts determine the weather forecast for the next hours.

They’ll use this data to identify situations where the weather can pose a risk to safety, impact on the day-to-day operations, and understand steps required to keep the business running profitably

The data alone is not enough to determine the forecast, it’s the combination of data and expertise that creates an accurate forecast.

 

Download your copy of "How It’s Made: The Ultimate Guide to Weather Forecasting" below:


Download Now

 

MeteoGroup uses only high-quality observations, wherever possible, and is transparent about how that data is processed. We manage a weather station network covering Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Luxembourg and provide global coverage with data from 20,000 stations worldwide.


Wim van den Berg


Senior Meteorological Consultant
WeatherTech Team
MeteoGroup