You are watching: What is a weather station model

When you end up this page, friend should be able to discuss temperature, dew point, visibility and their systems of measurement. Friend should likewise be able come identify and also interpret temperature, dew point, visibility, and present weather (obstructions come visibility) top top a station model.


A sample the a station design with temperature, dew point, visibility, and present weather boxed in red.

For meteorologists, the first step in examining the atmosphere is make observations. Commonly, meteorologists display screen these observations in something dubbed a station model (check out the example on the right), i m sorry is a graphical template showing existing weather problems at a weather terminal (often situated at one airport). End the next couple of sections, I"m walking to introduce you to the vital variables shown on the station model and also show you how to translate one. Top top this page, we"re going to focus on temperature, dew point, visibility, and also "present weather" (obstructions come visibility), which I"ve put in a red crate in the station model on the right.

I"ll briefly discuss each variable (what the is and its typical units the measurement), and also then I"ll comment on how you can interpret every one ~ above a station model. Let"s begin with other I"m sure you"re familiar with--temperature.

Temperature: while you more than likely think of temperature as "how warm or cold miscellaneous is," that"s a pretty ambiguous definition (since "hot" and "cold" are somewhat subjective). Much more precisely, temperature is a measure up of energy. You see, air molecules room restless small lumps of matter, continually vibrating, wriggling and bumping right into their numerous neighbors. As air temperature increases, the molecular run becomes significantly frenetic. At a temperature the 72 degrees Fahrenheit, the average rate of air molecules is about 1,000 mile an hour, which translates into ample kinetic power (energy that motion). Thus, air temperature is a measure of the median kinetic energy of wait molecules.

In the united States, we generally express temperature using the Fahrenheit temperature scale, but most nations in the human being use the Celsius temperature range (undoubtedly, you"ve heard temperature to express in "degrees Fahrenheit" or "degrees Celsius" before). By the way, if you ever before need to convert between the 2 scales, the national Weather company temperature conversion calculator is great!

To offer you part weather context, the phibìc American all-time marks because that highest and also lowest temperatures are, respectively, 134 levels Fahrenheit (56.7 degrees Celsius) in California"s death Valley, and also minus 81.4 levels Fahrenheit (minus 63 degrees Celsius) in ~ the town of Snag in the Yukon territory of Canada. You may likewise be acquainted with some (non-weather) usual temperature markers:

100 levels Celsius (212 levels Fahrenheit) is the boiling point of water37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit) coincides to normal body temperature22.2 levels Celsius (72 degrees Fahrenheit) to represent the "ideal" room temperature0 degrees Celsius (32 levels Fahrenheit) is the melting suggest of ice

There are other temperature scales besides Celsius and also Fahrenheit. Because that example, there"s the Kelvin range (sometimes referred to as the "absolute temperature scale"). Please note that the number of kelvins = the number of degrees Celsius + 273.15. So, the melting allude of water is 273.15 kelvins and also the boiling suggest of water, at typical pressure, is 373.15 kelvins. Because that the record, it"s bad type to say "degrees kelvin." Indeed, the proper means to express the units of absolute temperature is just "kelvins." The Kelvin range is used commonly in the physics sciences, and in fact it"s the many direct way to describe the relationship in between the typical speed of wait molecules and their temperature (higher temperatures = faster average molecule speeds).


On a terminal model, reading the temperature is quite easy. The number situated in the upper-left edge of the version is the terminal temperature to express in levels Fahrenheit (or Celsius, depending upon the country of origin). In the situation of the station design on the right, the temperature is 52 levels Fahrenheit. Unless otherwise indicated, you deserve to assume in this course the we"re using degrees Fahrenheit on the station model.

Dew Point: by definition, the dew suggest is the approximate temperature come which the water vapor (the gaseous form of water) in the air need to be cooled (at continuous pressure) in order for it come condense right into liquid water drops. We"re going to speak a lot much more about dew point later on, however for now, focus on the fact that dew point is a temperature, so it"s frequently expressed in degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius.

As it turns out, the dew allude temperature is additionally an absolute measure that the quantity of water vapor present. The higher the concentration of water vapor, the greater the dew point, and also as such, the dew suggest affects the way the waiting “feels” – whether it be dried or muggy. Since our skin temperature is regulated to some degree by evaporation the sweat, it would certainly be logical the we would be impacted to some level by the dew allude temperature. Certainly, describing how something “feels” deserve to be a little dicey in a scientific research course due to the fact that it’s a rather subjective topic, but examine the table listed below for a rough guide on exactly how the air can “feel” based on dew suggest temperature.

A basic level of human being comfort versus miscellaneous dew point temperatures.Dew PointGeneral level the comfort
60 degreesFor most people, the wait starts to feel a tad "muggy" or "sticky."
65 degreesThe waiting starts to feel "muggy" or "sticky."
70 degreesThe air is sultry and tropical and generally uncomfortable.
75 degrees or higherThe waiting is oppressive and stifling.


Finding the dew suggest on a station design is likewise pretty easy. The number located in the lower-left corner of the model is the station dew allude in levels Fahrenheit (or Celsius depending upon the country of origin). In the situation of the station model on the right, the temperature is 46 levels Fahrenheit.

Visibility and Present Weather: I"m going to cover this two monitorings together due to the fact that they"re extremely related. Meteorologists are very interested in the horizontal visibility (essentially, how far you can see) due to the fact that it has significant implications for transportation. If visibility is an extremely low, conditions can be rather hazardous for vehicle drivers or landing aircraft!

Horizontal visibility have the right to run the gamut. ~ above a perfectly clean day, friend can"t view forever, but visibility have the right to reach roughly 100 mile in the mountainous west U.S. ~ above the other hand, visibility have the right to lower to close to zero in heavy, "pea-soup" fog, fierce punch and/or falling snow, punch sand/dust, smoke, etc. On a station model, the visibility is express in mile in the United states (you can assume we"re making use of miles in this course, unless noted otherwise), and is situated below and also to the left that the temperature.


On the annotated station version to the right, I"ve labeling the visibility (1 1/2 miles, in this case). Please note, however, that if visibility is not greatly reduced, that is regularly omitted native the station model. However, if visibility is diminished to 7 miles or less, the offending obstruction to visibility ("present weather") is likewise included in the terminal model, instantly to the right of the visibility and also just listed below the temperature. While there are many, many possible symbols, here are the most frequently used icons for current weather. In the sample station design to the right, the 3 "dots" suggest that center rain was the culprit, reduce visibility come one-and-a-half miles. If you"re interested, here"s a very comprehensive list showing the wide range of feasible present weather symbols (although few of these really rarely obtain used).

Because the the varying levels that precipitation deserve to reduce horizontal visibility, the qualifiers of light, moderate, or heavy are added (such together "light rain" or "heavy snow"). I should also note the if precipitation is falling, it is always reported ~ above the terminal model, no matter exactly how light or how small it affects visibility. But, together I mentioned before, non-precipitating obstructions come visibility (fog, haze, and smoke are probably the many common) are only reported in the station design when visibility autumn to seven miles or less.

Ultimately, while you don"t need to memorize every solitary symbol for present weather, you should spend part time familiarizing yourself through the usual ones, and also you should certainly memorize the ar of temperature, dew point, visibility, and present weather on the terminal model. To aid you acquire started, take part time to study the Key Skill box below.

Key Skill...

Below in an interaction station version that permits you come input your own data, and the station design will change so you have the right to see just how it looks. The tool contains some parts of the station design that we haven"t talked around yet, however for now, emphasis on an altering the temperature, dew point, visibility, and also obstruction to visibility (present weather) to see exactly how the station version changes. This will help you cement where each of these is situated on the terminal model, and help you end up being familiar with the common symbols for existing weather.

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You can additionally look in ~ the most existing surface observations and also you should be able to pick out the temperature and also dew allude at each station (many may not have visibility or present weather plotted).