This post is the fourth and final post in a series about weather watching and prediction. The previous posts in this series discussed cloud observation, wind observation, and the use of weather instruments. These skills can be used to observe weather wherever you may be, and they can also aid in making short term predictions. However, if one desires to monitor trends in the weather, or if one simply wants to document what weather has been occurring, a fourth set of skills is then needed. This set of weather skills is all about record keeping. As you observe and record temperatures, precipitation, cloud formations, and the like, it is important to have a system in which one can document what is happening in the weather from one day to the next. For the best records, you should record your observations consistently at the same time every day. However, because the reasons for keeping track of the weather vary from one person to the next, it is really up to you on how and when you want to do it.
The first step, however, is to determine what measurements and observations you wish to record. If one desires to track the weather, one should record the most basic observations. These include the date, time, temperature, the conditions of the sky, and any precipitation that has occurred. Other measurements that you may wish to record are the wind direction and wind speed, any measurable amount of rain or snow, or the size of any hail stones that have fallen. In addition, if you have a min/max thermometer, it is also a good idea to record the minimum and maximum temperatures reached in that time period you are observing. Also, if you have access to a barometer, you may wish to record the barometric air pressure, and if you have a hygrometer, you can add the relative humidity measurements as well. In general, choose to record the measurements that you find beneficial, and the ones you have the ability to read.
Next, you need to decide how often you would like to record those measurements. You may wish to document what you see only once a day, or maybe you want to observe multiple times a day. It could be that once a day is too burdensome, in which case, you may wish to only write down a summary of what weather has occurred only once a week. Overall, what should guide your decision should be the purposes you have in mind for what you would use the information you choose to observe.
After you have decided on what and how often to record, lay out a plan on how to capture this information. Use whatever methods you would find most convenient. The easiest way I found for me is to record the elements of the weather in a table or spreadsheet form. However, how you choose to record the weather is really up to you. You could choose to write things down in a small notebook, type observations in a spreadsheet, or you may even choose to use a sophisticated computer program which can also provide analysis on trends in the weather. For an example of record keeping, here is a copy of my weather log below:
As you can see, my current plan is to record weather data once a day. You can also note which observations I choose to write down. You may desire more or less information to analyze than this, but it is true that the more information you keep, the better the weather picture you would be able to discern. However, time and convenience are also factors in observing the weather too, so choose a system you would be most likely to use on a regular basis. Again, for personal weather records, it’s really up to you. Just keep in mind that consistency is the key for good record keeping.
All in all, the weather affects all of us, and there are so many elements of the weather we need to be prepared for. As one incorporates the skills of weather observation and prediction into their preps, one will gain the ability to add valuable information into their decision making and planning. This in turn will ultimately make one a better prepper and a more likely survivor.