August 24th, 2016

Local weather website going strong


By Schnarr, J.W. on March 14, 2016.

J.W. Schnarr

LETHBRIDGE HERALD

jwschnarr@lethbridgeherald.com

Lethbridge residents looking for a more local source of weather can check out a newly redesigned site focusing on the westside of town.

West Lethbridge Weather is operated by local weather enthusiast Gary Wheeler. The site is fed constant information updates through his own Personal Weather Station and is augmented with a number of additions to both hardware and software he has made over the years as his hobby has grown.

“A long time ago, I figured Environment Canada lied, so I built my own weather station,” said Wheeler.

The station has been in operation for nearly a decade. Wheeler has been adding to his setup over the years in order to increase the amount of data available to visitors. This has included software for predicting weather.

“It runs the numbers on an hourly basis, and we generate our own forecasts at 18 minutes past the hour,” Wheeler said.

The extra 18 minutes allows Wheeler to compile and post the latest weather information available, as data is collected at the top of the hour.

Southern Alberta residents are all too familiar with how sudden the weather can change. Weather watching could almost be considered a second job for many local residents.

“You can’t live in southern Alberta and not be a weather watcher,” Wheeler said. “It impacts everything you do. You can be in a snowsuit in the morning, and be using suntan lotion in the afternoons. Some days, it can be that weird.”

Wheeler said unique topographical features on the west side of Lethbridge can make for differences between the weather data at the airport and on the westside. He noted his software is using the raw data it collects on its own.

The site boasts a number of resources for visitors, including hourly weather updates 24/7, access to weather cameras, provincial forecasts and satellite imagery, alerts and warnings, in-depth weather details, RADAR imagery, and accessible weather charts and graphs. Browsers can check up on wind directions and speeds, information on when the sun and moon rise and set, humidity, and even current cloud base levels.

There is also access to a Whoop-Up Drive camera that visitors can use to check traffic.

Wheeler participates in the Volunteer Weather Watcher program with Environment Canada, the Canadian Weather Amateur Radio Network, and uploads weather details to Weather Underground.

Wheeler said visitors can expect more features to come as he is able to implement them.

“We’re doing little bits at a time,” he said. “We’re bringing more cool things on as we get them developed.”

One of those new features is an upcoming contest the site will be running where local residents will be invited to submit their best spring photos, with prizes for those deemed the best of the best.

To check out the website, visit westlethbridgeweather.com.

Follow @JWSchnarrHerald on Twitter

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