How to read a weather stations map like an expert

How to read a weather stations map like an expert

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A weather stations map is one of the types of a weather map, which in turn is one of the two most popular forms of weather data representation, along with a standard table. In this article, you will learn more about what a weather stations map is and how to read it like an expert.

What is a weather stations map?

A weather stations map is one of the types of weather map which shows the location and data of weather stations, the main weather instrument, of which there are more than 40,000 official worldwide in the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) network.

A modern weather stations map is also a digital interactive (live) map you can get on some website or rather in a weather application for your smartphone and tablet.

With the development of digital technology, it is also has become possible to separate the weather stations map from other weather maps, which usually focus on one or more weather elements, as well as to create separate maps for many of them. Previously, on paper maps, these elements were combined on one general weather map that included wind, precipitation, temperature, cloud cover, and more, collected around the weather station as a source of this data.

The data you see on a typical map of weather stations is real-time data that the stations collects. This data also serves to produce weather forecasts. In other words, a map of weather stations is a map of the weather right now as opposed to a regular map with a forecast — the weather in the future. It could also be a global map for the whole world and regional or local for only some parts of the world. For example, it could be a weather stations map for North America, the Mediterranean Sea cost, and the like.

Accordingly, a weather stations map is needed to get the appropriate real-time data in a visual form that the usual table, graph, and other forms of presentation do not provide. It is also a way to get a bigger weather picture.

Weather stations map in the Windy.app for iOS

How to read a map of weather stations like an expert?

To read any type of weather map correctly, you need to know that there is no single weather map, there are many, and they look different with different information and visualization depending on the source.

However, the weather map generally consists of the following basic elements, so keep your attention on them, while reading the map.

  • colors,
  • special symbols,
  • numbers,
  • letters or phrases,
  • lines,
  • different interactive elements.

So, let’s figure out how to read a weather stations map and its data using the Windy.app as an example in 10 steps:

1. In the app, weather stations are a type of an outdoor spot, just like a beach for surfing, a marina for yachting, and so on. To find stations faster, you can pick only them on the map in Settings. A station is indicated by a wind generator icon.

Weather stations in the Weather Map settings in the Windy.app for iOS

2. The more you enlarge the map, the more stations become. The app's database collects over 30,000 of the 40,000 official stations, which is almost all of them. From here you are sure to find one, two, or even three stations near your location or where you are going to travel. But we’ll come back to that.

3. Click on the station icon to find out its exact name (yes, usually it’s some abbreviation that only local meteorologists understand, as well as city, region, and country — focus on them) and get real-time weather data. In the Windy.app, the map gives you wind speed and direction graphically (the arrow) and textually, e.g. NW (northwest).

Oakland, CA, USA, weather station real-time data in the Windy.app for iOS

4. On the window that appears on the map of weather stations, you also see the time of the last update and the most accurate weather model, whose forecast most often coincided with the station’s data for the last 10 days. In other words, the ECMWF model on the screen was guessing real weather with a 63% probability over the specified interval. From that, you decide how much you trust its forecast for a given location.

5. Next, the Windy.app app has an even more interesting feature for you — Live Weather Stations. To activate it, click on the anemometer icon (wind gauge with three bowls) in the upper right corner of the map. All the station icons have now turned into live micro-widgets with the same wind speed and direction data. However, it is now also represented by colors on the same color scale to work for the entire map, which is located at the very top of the screen. So with this feature, you can quickly orient yourself to the wind situation across many stations at once, without having to open each of them individually, which would take too much time. But you can still click on each of them to get the same data as in the first case.

Live Weather Stations in the Windy.app for iOS

Live Weather Stations in the Windy.app for iOS

6. To get even more data, go to the page of each weather station. Here you additionally see also the wind gusts and air temperature, as well as the exact time of the last station update and its local time now. In the widget at the top of the screen, you can also see the exact location of the station. For example, this one is in the Port of Oakland. Read a sepatate guide to the weather stations screen.

Weather station screen in the Windy.app for iOS

7. In addition to this, you can also find out three other things on this screen: 1). The percentage of match of two more weather models with the station's data (and choose the best of them), 2). Get the weather forecast for that station as an outdoor spot and 3). Compare the data from the station with the forecast from even more weather models using Compare Mode on one graph.

Weather station screen in the Windy.app for iOS

Weather forecast for weather station as a spot in the Windy.app for iOS

Compare Mode with a weather station in the Windy.app for iOS

8. From the station screen, you can always easily return to the weather stations map, including the live map of weather stations.

Nearest weather stations on the spot screen in the Windy.app for iOS

9. You can also find the three stations closest to you on the spot page and on the main application screen.

10. The final, but not obvious useful feature in the app is the possibility to add your professional or amateur station to the database. To do this, email us at [email protected]

 

Text: Ivan Kuznetsov

Cover photo: Alessandro Erbetta / Unsplash

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