Interested in the weather? Forbes Library can help

  • The new weather station installed in the back parking lot of Forbes Library. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Molly Moss, the Assistant Director at Forbes Library, talks about the new weather station installed in the back parking lot. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Molly Moss, the Assistant Director at Forbes Library, talks about the new weather station installed in the back parking lot. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Molly Moss, the assistant director at Forbes Library, talks about the new weather station installed in the back parking lot. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Molly Moss, the Assistant Director at Forbes Library, talks about the new weather station installed in the back parking lot. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

@RebeccaMMullen
Published: 7/4/2017 10:22:43 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Is it a bird? A plane? A conceptual art piece?

The strange gray box attached to a lightpost behind Forbes Library is actually a weather station that takes measurements of temperature, precipitation, wind speed and direction as well as other meteorological data.

“It looks kind of like a UFO to some people if they don’t know what it is,” said Molly Moss, assistant director at Forbes Library.

The weather station was installed in January and collects data every minute on its surroundings. The information is automatically uploaded from the station to wunderground.com, where users can see detailed analytics and long term weather trends.

Jasper Lapienski, of Northampton, first suggested the weather station at a library trustee meeting in September. He lives across the street from the library and wanted to have a place in the neighborhood to get accurate temperature readings.

Smith College has a weather station, he said, but it’s at the top of a tall building so the data is different than what’s on the ground.

Lapienski also wanted to have a weather station in the community that was owned by the people of Northampton and not just private citizens. There are over 100 stations in the Pioneer Valley but many are owned by individuals and therefore inaccessible to the general public.

“It’s always of interest for citizens to have things in the public trust because it adds value to all of our lives and not just one person,” Lapienski said Monday.

The station cost $440, and was purchased by Friends of Forbes Library. Lapienski said he hopes that the visibility of the station will make library-goers curious about the technology.

“I don’t think the public is aware of how available this data is,” he said.

On May 20, the library held a weather station open house with Lapienski showing community members a virtual tour of how the station works and answering questions.

Lapienski said he enjoys collecting weather data and looking at the history of the field as well as long-term climate trends. He likes being able to refute claims people make using data.

“If you listen to what people say, every winter is the coldest year on record,” he said.




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