Interesting article on thermometer placement

How to properly place your outdoor thermometer

04:52 PM PDT on Wednesday, July 29, 2009

By TRAVIS PITTMAN / KING5.com

excerpts:

SEATTLE – With temperatures in the Puget Sound region breaking records this week, many people are playing a watching and waiting game – waiting to see when the thermometer outside their home will reach triple digits.

Below is a photo of a thermometer sent to KING 5 News Tuesday afternoon by a viewer in Oso, east of Arlington. It clearly shows the temperature reading 116 degrees. You can also clearly tell the sun is reflecting off it and it’s mounted right next to a building.

source: KING 5 Viewer

The National Weather Service says this is where you need to place your thermometer to get an accurate reading:

- It must be in a shaded, well-ventilated and open area, 5 feet above ground, give or take a foot.

- Away from sprinkler systems

- No closer than four times the height of any obstruction. For example, if a building is 10 feet tall, it needs to be no closer than 40 feet from that building.

- Located over natural ground such as grass, dirt or sod.

- At least 100 feet from road or concrete.

The picture they provide is what the surfacestations project is all about. Note the 100 foot distance from asphalt.

source: National Weather Service

Here is a diagram of how to properly place your thermometer to get an accurate reading.

Full article here h/t to WUWT reader “Ed”

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64 thoughts on “Interesting article on thermometer placement

  1. at the risk of being labelled a ‘denier’, the sun reflection may also be the flash from the camera.

  2. The bright white reflection is the flash from the camera, not the sun. The only shadow is on the lower left edge of the thermometer which is typical for a point and shoot camera with the flash close to the lense. There is no way to tell if the thermometer is or has been in the sun due to the flash filling in the shadows.

    Keeping up with weather is not climate it has been well below average in the SF Bay Area this July except for a short period two weeks ago.

    MJPenny

  3. A rare but not unheard of weather pattern has been in place in Washington State this week and temps in the Puget Sound area have been 10 degrees F. higher than east of the Cascades. However these things can change rapidly as the pattern breaks down, namely (from the current NWS ‘discussion”):
    GRADIENTS HAVE TURNED ONSHORE ALONG THE COAST…AND STRATUS MANAGED TO WORK IT’S WAY INTO SHELTON AND PARTIALLY DOWN THE STRAIT. KCLM (Port Angeles) WAS A WHOPPING 22 DEGREES COOLER AT 16Z THEN THIS TIME YESTERDAY… IMPRESSIVE.

    OT: Why do folks write it’s for its? Please stop!

  4. People don’t live in those places though…If I want to see what’s the temperature in my house where I live I’d put the thermometer inside and not on my neighbors field…

  5. The standard house exterior thermometer is made to be visible from inside in order to see APPROXIMATELY how cold or warm it is outside. Those thermometers are not only affected by the city island effect but mainly by the wall-window effect. We use them only to help us decide what to wear and how to dress the kids when they go out. I don’t see the utility of applying NOAA-like correction factors to decide what to wear, even if they want you to believe that in 50 years everyone will walk naked in the streets.

  6. Ray (16:36:42) : “I don’t see the utility of applying NOAA-like correction factors to decide what to wear, even if they want you to believe that in 50 years everyone will walk naked in the streets.”

    Give Obama a few more years and we’ll have no clothes. Bring on that global warming!!

  7. I was definitely hot yesterday on the east side of Seattle, inland and away from Puget Sound. Unofficial readings were as high as 108F on Weather Underground when I checked at 3PM yesterday. The airport at SeaTac gave an official temperature of 103F, two above the all time record.

    The Seattle Times did not report the weather as climate however. They said what it it clearly was, a strong high pressure system drawing hot air from the arid regions east of the Cascade Ranges (where 100F plus temperatures are common from May to September).

    I was pleasantly surprised by the Times reporting. That did not in any way however stop the faithful from preaching the end of the world. They are having their usual scold session wherever they can find an ear.

  8. John F. Hultquist (15:59:30) : — . . . WORK IT’S WAY INTO SHELTON AND PARTIALLY DOWN THE STRAIT. KCLM (Port Angeles) OT: Why do folks write it’s for its? Please stop!

    John: what’s worse: “WAS A WHOPPING 22 DEGREES COOLER AT 16Z THEN THIS TIME YESTERDAY…” Why do folks write ‘then’ for ‘than’? Please stop that too.

  9. Thirty six Celsius peak temperatures just north of the forty ninth over the past couple of days. Thirty four Celsius at present outside my kitchen window.

    For Nanaimo locals, the Coast Bastion Hotel on Front Street is doing special deals for air conditioned rooms while this warm weather continues.

  10. That kind of weather pattern is quite common in the fall in California. You just don’t see it develop so far North very often or so early in the season. It is generally an October sort of patter that develops 500 miles or so farther South.

  11. Peter F. : then versus than
    My fault was I did not catch that error in their text until I had hit the submit button.

    Note that 16Z is 9 AM on PDT or 8 AM on PST.

    Camera flash seems a good call, too.

  12. re. thermometer placing:

    – It must be in a shaded, well-ventilated and open area, 5 feet above ground, give or take a foot.

    What generates the shade (for shaded area) in an open area about midday time?

  13. John F. Hultquist (15:59:30) :

    A rare but not unheard of weather pattern has been in place in Washington State this week …

    “weather” being the operative word.

  14. Thanks for the great site Anthony but I have to ask: Is this postworthy? I mean look at the thermometer, the latest in bakelite moulding technology.

  15. Just to answer some of those questions:

    The reason this is being pointed out should be obvious. The viewer who sent in the picture (and likely, now, most of the viewers) believes that the temperature is 116, when in fact that is not necessarily the actual outdoor temperature. I once lived in a 3-storey apartment that would often exceed 120F on the third floor after the hot afternoon sun heated the upstairs, but the outside temperatures rarely got above the 80s.

    Still, my friend in BC (I love the British California bit, Robert Wood!) has been telling me about this horrible oppresive heatwave, while just the other side of the mountains in Calgary we’ve been seeing cool and barely warm temps pretty much all “summer”. Actually, from what I can see, the deflected jet stream is blocking that heat on the coast and dragging all the cold arctic stuff down here. I hate it.

    Usually we get our summer weather directly from the west (ie. Washington State), this entire week it’s been coming from straight north.

  16. Competent literacy- spelling, grammar, punctuation, meanings of words that sound the same but are spelled differently, is a huge problem on every website I ever visit. You can thank the fact that the AGW types make up a majority of our teachers in K-12 and beyond. There, their, they’re; its, it’s, two, too and to- this is a far larger problem than AGW. Best solution: keep a dictionary handy and consult it if you have any doubt about what you’re about to write. Your, you’re, yore, heal, heel, he’ll- goes on forever. A proper elementary education is all that is needed to correct this corruption, one thing that our government seems (seams) incapable of providing. Start at home.

  17. L,

    There’s also affect/effect. I remember it like this: the effect of the Sun affects the climate [sorry, Leif].

    Then there’s the apostrophe. Lots of misuse can be avoided by remembering that the apostrophe indicates either a possessive [Bob's baseball bat], or a contraction [it is = it's; likewise: they are = they're -- not their or there]: click

    [Mrs. Smokey is a middle school Principal. But I can spell better than she can. I tell her it's because she was educamated in California. Then I duck.]

    Class dismissed.

  18. Most of the time in Seattle the clouds provide the shade. My mom has the same set-up at her house. It is fine for checking the morning temperatures prior to heading out because it is on the shady side of the house then, but gets a lot of afternoon sun.

  19. deadwood wrote:
    The Seattle Times did not report the weather as climate however. They said what it it clearly was, a strong high pressure system drawing hot air from the arid regions east of the Cascade Ranges (where 100F plus temperatures are common from May to September).

    I was pleasantly surprised by the Times reporting. That did not in any way however stop the faithful from preaching the end of the world. They are having their usual scold session wherever they can find an ear.

    ~~~~

    Have you noticed, despite the extreme lack of precipitation, they aren’t screaming drought? It seems to be a typical refrain every summer.

  20. (19:05:58) :

    Competent literacy- spelling, grammar, punctuation, meanings of words that sound the same but are spelled differently, is a huge problem on every website I ever visit. Best solution: keep a dictionary handy and consult it if you have any doubt about what you’re about to write.

    ~~
    A writer’s forum I’m on occasionally has homonym vent fests. There are entire books devoted to the subject. Spell check is not your friend. Online dictionaries are useful, and unless you want an obscure definition, fast.

    Recently, I’ve seen piece and peace. Marshall and martial is getting pretty oldd. My favorite was ancestor instead of progeny.

  21. Here in Kamloops we’ve been having some rather warm days and I’ve been having a very interesting time using the USB temperature monitors to record temperatures at various places around my yard. On my deck the peak temperature a couple of days ago was 120 F and that must have been with just the right sun angle on the thermistor. Inside my vehicle peak daytime temperatures have been 135 F and only dropping to 70 F by dawn. Going to a patch of lawn gives much lower temperatures and I don’t think my garden went above 100 F on the hottest day we’ve had thus far. A non-air conditioned basement in our house is a steady 75 F demonstrating that we did a good job insulating it a few years ago.

    Before moving to Kamloops I used to live in downtown Vancouver and used to find summers intolerable. The UHI effect is quite pronounced there and, if I still lived there, I’d be spending most of my time on the beach this summer. I suspect that a lot of people confuse UHI effects with global warming. Having the USB temperature monitors has allowed me to obtain temperature vs time data for numerous locations and revealed a far greater variation in temperature in my yard than I suspected. People have known for years that on hot summer days you sit in the shade or the beach and avoid areas of pavement exposed to full sun. I don’t know what it would take to make the MSM realize that there is no single temperature reading for a city but rather a large range of temperatures depending on where one happens to be.

  22. Effectively we have a winter type weather track, that has set up about 2-4 months too early. Here in Omaha we are at 71 and Seattle (oddly enough where I am now and where I came from) is at 103. Now if we look at a typical winter day in say November, it would be 50 degrees in Seattle and 20 degreesin Omaha, same differential, just the temps would have been more normal, but since the pattern developed with the sun still in the northern hemisphere the temps are much higher. This is what it looks like to me anyway, but I am an electronic tech with an interest in weather not a meteorologist (though I keep thinking of going back for the degree)
    Oh and Seattle, I know that it was just as hot about 6 years ago cause I was still living there at the time (I thought it was funy though that we had our families all come up to enjoy the moderate temps just the same week we were breaking records)

  23. L (19:05:58) :

    I read a lot of books. Gone are the days when you never got a spelling mistake in a book! I blame spell checkers. I can’t remember a real example but things along the line of: “I went to by a book” or “I red in a book” The problem comes when a word is misspelled but by a real word – then you don’t get a red line under it and so it gets through.

  24. I’m in the Puget Sound, and it’s a scorcher….so the warmers are all atwitter. After two miserable years of rotten weather, I’m flat out ecstatic. Many people I know agree this is the best summer we’ve ever seen. So we stole it from California, so what? We’ve paid our dues. It is bound to happen now and then. The start of June this year was one of the coldest on record, and it snowed about 4 times as often this last winter. This situation really offers a great example of why weather is not climate.

  25. MattB (20:33:31) :

    Somehow I just can’t see Monty Python ever being referenced over on Real Climate…

  26. The Pacific NW gets warm and dry typically when the PNA teleconnection spikes.

    Right now it is raging positive:

    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/precip/CWlink/pna/pna.shtml

    Which coincides with the nasty mean almost “omega block” over the region and all the way above the Arctic Circle….where the Jet Stream is deflected like a crazy bend in a log flume ride….or an oxbow on a very old river….

    Meanwhile the upper level anticyclone which has been beating down Texas with heat this summer….shifted west to beat down the Pac NW for a while…

    …Due to the strengthening trough in the East as the NAO (piggybacked on its underwater cousin, the AMO) has been negative or near negative…since May!

    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/precip/CWlink/pna/nao.shtml

    And Central Park has had a record “cool” summer so far….July is almost over….so some records…

    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  27. Paddy (17:40:12) :

    Yes, flat tires go whop, whop, whop. The only exception is Pierelli tires.

    Hey, Paddy, you missed another italianate malaprop in you post:

    Yes, flat tires da go whop, whop, whop. The only exception is Pierelli tires. [La lingua italiana non ha ancora una th suono.] Also isn’t that the sound of gelatto hitting the dish? [Nessun insulto dire agli italiani o in Italia.]

  28. Why not question the accuracy of a cheap mass produced dial thermometer? I bought one when I moved up to the Puget Sound Area in ’92. When I got a mobile home on my property and bought a good mercury lab grade thermometer from Wind and Weather I compared the two and threw the dial away. It read 5 deg. low.
    There have been several mentions of a decrescendo of CAGW hype in Sci. Am. magazine, add the Seattle NBC TV station to the list.

  29. smokey: ” Lots of misuse can be avoided by remembering that the apostrophe indicates either a possessive “. Except for it’s, which is why it’s a special problem.

  30. layne Blanchard (20:38:36) : “I’m in the Puget Sound, and it’s a scorcher….so the warmers are all atwitter. After two miserable years of rotten weather, I’m flat out ecstatic. Many people I know agree this is the best summer we’ve ever seen. So we stole it from California, so what? We’ve paid our dues. It is bound to happen now and then. The start of June this year was one of the coldest on record, and it snowed about 4 times as often this last winter. This situation really offers a great example of why weather is not climate.”

    Prescient, reasonable observations. Agreed.

    Mother Earth….ever trying to calm her noisy, impatient children towards equilibrium, ALWAYS finds a way to balance herself out (and the noisy brats that call her “Mom”, too).

    If you are in one fixed point, like most of us are….the LOOOOOONG waves that propagate too slowly for us humans to perceive are ever moving across the globe.

    One moment its a cold spell…the trough…and then six months later…the crest arrives.

    People in this part of the world (the Pac NW and SW Canada) are smart enough to get it….and suffer through this cycle.

    The Pacific winds will return….as they have over there on the coast.

    Hello to my little brother and his family in Bend!. Love ya.

    Chris
    Norfolk, VA

  31. That is NOT the camera flash, nor is it a direct reflection of the sun.

    The sun would have to be just rising or setting to be at that position. A camera flash would be much closer to the center of the clear cover, and we would see a sharp shadow against the wall off to the left. The low contrast indicates the thermometer is in the shade, evenly illuminated by ambient light. The bright light could be a secondary reflection of the sun, angled off something too distant to make a shadow, perhaps a sloping car windshield.

  32. Another thing about the thermometer, it’s (a contraction of it is) full of water vapor. You can see the condensation dripping on the inside of the plastic.

    ABC was in full tree hugging mode on the Seattle story. Proof positive!
    They spent five minutes on the heat ending with coverage of a bit of highway median grass fire (about three car lengths worth). End of the world tone throughout.

    How could they have missed the over 3000 cold temperature records set in July all over the country in favor of reporting a hot day in Seattle?

  33. I reside in Washington, on the west side of the Cascade Mountains.
    .
    Not a few times, since around 1983 or so, did I experience rather warm weather in the mountainous areas.
    .
    In fact, at least twice that I’ve personally witnessed, the air temperature got warmer with the altitude — to a point.
    .
    Where I reside currently —at an altitude of 621 ft.— it often gets cooler than the surrounding lower elevations, and consonantly gets warmer then those same lower elevations.
    .
    There are a number of reasons for that, and anyone cogitating at length will surmise those reasons, it having much to do with the atmospheric pressure itself.
    .
    Now, helicopters make a ‘whop’ sound with their main blades, and a ‘guinea’ with their tail (stabilizer) blades.
    .
    Of course, there’s a rather dated joke about the American helicopter which had been shot down over Rome (of all places) because the large blade was going ‘whop-whop-whop’ and the small blades were going ‘guinea-guinea-guinea’!
    .
    :o)
    .

  34. Why would the flash go off in broad daylight? Must be a very cheap camera if this is the case. Then again, if it did go off, it would not be so intense compared to ambient light.

    Here in “Golden” Chilliwack (where they actually film the series “Eureka”, we had a nice 38 C (i.e. 100.4 F) yesterday and about the same today. But the killer is not really the temperature but the humidity level. We had about 76% relative humidity. The humidex must have been about 45 C or more.

  35. It looks to me like it is night time due to the very dark area to the right that would not be that way in the middle of the day, it would also make the flash completely unnecessary. The thermometer is clearly broken.

  36. An interesting article…but I’d say the light reflecting of the plastic cover of the thermometer is a flash, not the sun.

  37. For a comparable regional heat wave in the Pacifc Northwest, I got 1942:

    Portland WB City
    1942-06-30,102.0,68.0,
    1942-07-01,104.0,72.0,
    1942-07-02,107.0,71.0,

    Vancouver4 NNE
    1961-07-11,104.0,67.0,
    1961-07-12,103.0,63.0,
    1961-07-13,100.0,65.0,
    1942-06-30,105.0,63.0,
    1942-07-01,100.0,68.0,
    1942-07-02,102.0,68.0,
    1907-07-30,105.0,59.0,

    Battle Ground, Or
    1942-06-30 100.0 55.0
    1942-07-01 103.0 72.0
    1942-07-02 101.0 57.0

    Salem AP
    1942-06-30 102.0 63.0
    1942-07-01 101.0 64.0
    1942-07-02 104.0 64.0

    Corvallis Un., Or.
    1905-07-08,109.0,57.0,
    1942-06-30,100.0,63.0,
    1942-07-01,101.0,66.0,
    1942-07-02,104.0,66.0,

    Medford AP, Or.
    1942-06-29 100.0 55.0
    1942-06-30 105.0 58.0
    1942-07-01 108.0 63.0
    1942-07-02 106.0 64.0

    Redding, CA FS
    1942-06-29 103.0 71.0
    1942-06-30 109.0 74.0
    1942-07-01 110.0 79.0
    1942-07-02 107.0 78.0
    1942-07-03 105.0 75.0

    Olympia, WA Priest Pk.
    1942-06-30 100.0 55.0
    1942-07-01 103.0 62.0
    1942-07-02 101.0 62.0

    Nothing else was that widepread, but a lot of stations are missing data, Portland is supposed to go back to 1856. I find this a lot.
    What’s the big secret?
    The other thing I find are some older rural stations with this hot period missing.
    Check it out for yourselves.
    Looks sort of fishy to me.

  38. OT:
    Environment Canada should get their story right for a change:

    In the Vancouver — The Canadian Press Last updated on Thursday, Jul. 30, 2009 12:49PM EDT ” “A very strong ridge of high pressure is currently dominating all of B.C.,” said Gary Dickinson, a meteorologist with Environment Canada. “The ridge of high pressure also brought up from the south very warm air, which was responsible for the record-breaking temperatures.”

    And now in the Jane Armstrong Vancouver — From Friday’s Globe and Mail Last updated on Friday, Jul. 31, 2009 01:04AM EDT “As forecasters we care about two things: Is the wind blowing onshore or offshore? And if you answer that question, you can tell a lot about the weather. If the wind blows offshore for a prolonged period of time, a heat wave sets in.”

    So dear Environment Canada… did the wind that caused the 2009 heatwave blow from the South -ocean- or from the East -land-? ROTFLOL!!!!!!!

    ““As forecasters we care about two things: Is the wind blowing onshore or offshore?” says Mr. Jones, meteorologist for Environment Canada.

    And at least we know where the Hot Air is coming from…

  39. fyi, based on the shadow, the reflection is clearly the flash from the camera. Just helpin out!

  40. Smokey: ” Lots of misuse can be avoided by remembering that the apostrophe indicates either a possessive “. Except for it’s, which is why it’s a special problem.

    possessive pronouns don’t get the apostrophe:ours, yours, its, his, hers, and theirs. Should be easy to remember now. class dismissed again :)

  41. @ O, bother
    One whops when one strikes something or someone very hard. Whop is of ME origin (wappen), probably echoic. Whopping is the present participle of whop and means “exceptionally large”. as: AGW is a whopping lie. Al Gore is a whopping laureate.

  42. Apostrophes aside; damn, that’s hot! People are dying from heat stroke, malaria and malnutrition in otherwise first world countries. Our coasts are falling into the ocean at ever increasing rates. Whole species are dying right on our very doorstep. Plants are withering, crop yields are at their lowest in decades. Third world countries are dropping further and further into poverty and starvation. The arctic is about to disappear, and all the polar bears with it.

    Oh, wait. That *isn’t* happening.

    Even when we take it as given that the earth is hotter today than it was last year (or last decade), the sea level has risen, that the arctic is nearly gone (sic), what is the actual result of these horrific effects?

    I’ve often posed this question, but almost universally, any ‘effect’ noted is the result of pollution (e.g. mercury is a big issue where I live in the SC coastal low-country) and not CO2 or global warming. Which is fine – let’s do something about that, but stop blaming CO2 as the cause of every bad thing that happens in the world (I believe NumbersWatch has a rather extensive list of all this contradictory things which are caused by the ‘evil’ global warming).

  43. ked5 (19:36:57) :

    Have you noticed, despite the extreme lack of precipitation, they aren’t screaming drought? It seems to be a typical refrain every summer.

    Oh, they are indeed screaming drought! The governor and her water czar have convened the drought council.

    Expect the “Drought Caused by Global Warming” announcement and subsequent headlines in all national media outlets next week.

  44. I have that same thermometer on my deck. It is a piece of junk. If the sun is shining on it and it is 60 degrees outside, the thermometer will read 80 degrees. I haven’t decided how I am going to fix it so it reads properly. Maybe I’ll let it read the temperature of the trash heap.

  45. deadwood,

    Yeah, I remember when Gregoire did this a few years back too. And then the rains came. And suddenly the talk of drought went away quietly. I always laugh when they talk about drought in the Pacific NW.

  46. Maybe I will send in a picture of my thermometer mounted on the dash of my car. With the windows rolled up i can clearly demonstrate global warming.

  47. Jeff B. (10:09:13) :

    deadwood,

    Yeah, I remember when Gregoire did this a few years back too. And then the rains came. And suddenly the talk of drought went away quietly. I always laugh when they talk about drought in the Pacific NW.

    Yeah, drought in Western Washington, at least, is the norm rather than the exception. Seattle gets less annual rainfall than Dallas, and where I am north of Seattle we get about 10″ less annually than Seattle, about 26″. Most of that rain comes in the winter and fall months. In the summer, we average less than 1″ per month. If that aint drought…

  48. It’s obvious… according to all climate models, a rise in CO2 concentration will induce a runaway rise in temperature. The guy that took the picture probably opened a can of beer or just breathed on the thermometer.

  49. Jeff B. (10:09:13) :

    Yeah, I remember when Gregoire did this a few years back too. And then the rains came. And suddenly the talk of drought went away quietly. I always laugh when they talk about drought in the Pacific NW.

    Jeff Alberts (12:38:49) :

    Yeah, drought in Western Washington, at least, is the norm rather than the exception. Seattle gets less annual rainfall than Dallas, and where I am north of Seattle we get about 10″ less annually than Seattle, about 26″. Most of that rain comes in the winter and fall months. In the summer, we average less than 1″ per month. If that aint drought…

    Drought in Washington is more about snow pack than rain. The governor called the drought committee in February this year when the snowpack was only at about 70%.

    Most big water systems (i.e. Seattle, Tacoma) rely on Cascade snow melt to keep the reservoirs full enough to last for the summer. Irrigators in Eastern WA also rely on reservoirs in the Cascades.

    We had really good snow pack by late May and the governor sent the drought committee home thinking all would be well. The hot weather over the last week has resulted in a rapid melt off of the snow that should have trickled in over a longer period.

    This caught a lot of water planners off guard and now the reservoirs have less water over the next two months than they thought.

  50. Please send a modicum of you hot air to us here in the US Northeast

    This has been nearly a summer without a summer — our warmest days of the calendar year were back in the late April early May time frame.

    Recently it has become quite humid, and the temperatures are approaching “normal for the end of July” However air copnditioning equipment is already on “End of summer” sales

  51. John F. Hultquist (15:59:30)

    “OT: Why do folks write it’s for its? Please stop”

    …unless it’s the contraction for it is!

  52. I really have to wonder how accurate that junky thermometer is.

    I have seen retail displays of those things and they will all have a different reading sitting in the same place.

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