Discover the various uses for an automatic weather station

Talking about the weather is one of the most common conversation topics. But don’t worry, we’re not going to advise you to invest in an automatic weather station just to make it easier for you to break the ice when you ride the elevator with your neighbor.

The data collected by these weather stations serve a much more important purpose. In fact, meteorology is a crucial aspect that affects your daily life. It is also one of the most interesting topics, according to a survey conducted in the US in 2018. In this survey, 70% of respondents considered local weather forecasts to be “important to their daily life” (1).

So, let’s explain what automatic weather stations are, their uses, and the most common weather sensors.

What is an automatic weather station?

The definition of an automatic weather station is quite evident. It generally consists of a set of instruments that continuously collect information about various weather variables (current temperature, precipitation, wind speed and direction, etc.). However, according to the World Meteorological Organization, these devices are defined as follows (2):

An automatic weather station (AWS) is an automated version of a traditional weather station. Its purpose is to eliminate the need for human presence or enable measurements in remote or inhospitable areas. The system typically consists of a weatherproof enclosure designed to withstand harsh weather conditions, containing the data logger, rechargeable battery, and telemetry (optional), along with a set of weather sensors that, along with a solar panel or wind turbine, are connected and mounted on a mast. The specific configuration may vary depending on the system’s purpose. The system can provide near-real-time reporting via the Argos system and the Global Telecommunications System or store the data for later retrieval.

Regarding the communication system, for example, our automatic weather stations utilize different options such as GPRS or satellites.

These systems offer high reliability and performance. However, their mission is not to replace reference weather stations but to complement them, expanding their geographical coverage.

The main value provided by these solutions is the rapid dissemination of weather conditions in a specific area, which can be used to activate different types of alerts. As the State Meteorological Agency points out, this immediacy requires skipping data verification. Nevertheless, with regular maintenance provided by Arantec, the margin of error is very small.

What are the most common weather sensors?

Sensors are devices responsible for measuring different weather variables. They convert climatological quantities into electrical signals that facilitate their transmission and processing (4).

The commonly measured parameters in an automatic weather station include:

  • Current temperature, which measures the amount of heat emitted by a body, object, or environment. There are different devices for temperature measurement (thermocouples, thermistors, etc.), but one of the most common is the thermometer.
  • Precipitation, which refers to the amount of rain, snow, or hail. A rain gauge is used to monitor precipitation, which is a funnel that collects water in a graduated container for measurement. In some cases, these rain gauges can get clogged and rendered unusable, but our distribution agreement with Swiss company IAV Technologies SARL allows us to offer an advanced monitoring system called RainFlow, which prevents this problem.
  • Wind direction and speed, which is measured using an anemometer (to determine speed) and a wind vane (to indicate direction). Monitoring this variable is crucial in avalanche-prone areas, as the transport of snow by the wind is a determining factor in assessing the risk. The aforementioned commercial agreement enables us to incorporate the reliable FlowCapt solution into our product catalog for monitoring this aspect.
  • Air humidity, which refers to the amount of water vapor present in the air. It is measured using hygrometers or psychrometers, which provide more accurate readings.
  • Solar radiation, which measures the energy from the sun reaching the Earth’s surface. Common devices for monitoring solar radiation include pyranometers and heliographs.
  • Pressure, or in other words, the weight of the air. This measurement is obtained using a barometer.

8 unexpected uses of automatic weather stations

As mentioned in the introduction, knowing the local weather forecast is important. It can determine your plans for the weekend or whether you need to dress more warmly when leaving home. However, weather station data is also crucial for various other areas, and we’re sure some of them will surprise you.

Natural disaster prevention

An automatic weather station is an efficient solution for reducing the damages caused by natural hazards. These devices have proven their reliability in numerous occasions, both in episodes of heavy rainfall and snow avalanches.

In the case of floods, for example, their installation can be combined with early warning systems that monitor rivers and streams.

Air quality

Meteorology influences both the perception and dispersion of pollution.

Hot summer days with calm winds, for instance, favor the formation of tropospheric ozone (O3), also known as “bad ozone.” This potent secondary pollutant is primarily formed from nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Considering the harmful effects of high concentrations of O3 on human health, having weather data can help prevent episodes with elevated levels of O3.

Analysis of global warming

Weather station data is vital for analyzing patterns related to global temperature increase. In this task, century-old weather stations play an important role. The data series they hold allow for analyzing the climate’s evolution (5).

And in case you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to install an automatic weather station in a remote and inhospitable location, here’s an example. The expedition is part of a project to monitor glacier evolution in the Himalayas at 5,800 meters, which serve as valuable witnesses to global warming.


Weather is a major concern for people working in agriculture, as hailstorms or late frosts can ruin months of work. Having weather data, for example, can help determine when irrigation is necessary or prepare for extreme events, whose unpredictability can lead to ruin for thousands of farmers in developing countries (6).


Have you ever considered how weather conditions influence your consumer habits? You may not be aware, but weather is a fundamental factor.

Studies (7), for example, suggest that a 1°F (17.2°C) increase in temperature leads to a 2% increase in soda sales, while a 1°F decrease results in higher consumption of hot foods like soup. Additionally, exposure to sunlight makes us more likely to spend money on products or services, with a percentage that can reach up to 56% (think about sitting on a bar terrace).

Road safety

Weather has a significant impact on traffic. Adapting driving behavior to weather conditions is crucial for reducing the risk of accidents.

In this regard, an automatic weather station, with its ability to provide immediate information, can be particularly relevant. Displaying weather variables on information panels installed on roadways can help drivers anticipate and prevent problems.

Renewable energy

The sun and wind are two of the primary resources for clean energy production, so having detailed data on parameters such as solar radiation is key. In the case of wind energy, wind turbines have mechanisms that stop them for safety reasons when wind speeds are very high (around 25 meters/second average speed for 10 minutes).

Forensic meteorology

Forensic meteorology investigates historical weather events that may have led to or been relevant in emergencies, damages, injuries, or deaths.

For example, have you seen in movies or series how forensic investigators determine the time of death based on the insects present on a corpse? Well, meteorology plays a fundamental role in that process as well, as temperature can influence the development of necrophagous insects (8).

Another example of the usefulness of forensic meteorology can be the investigation of traffic accidents and the influence that weather conditions had on their occurrence.

Insurance companies

Insurance companies are also starting to make more intensive use of weather data. Having information from an automatic weather station can help define rates for agricultural or home insurance policies. Similarly, this data allows insurance companies to adapt and anticipate possible events where their involvement may be necessary.


In conclusion, automatic weather stations provide crucial information for various activities. They complement existing surveillance networks and, of course, help you decide whether you need to leave the house wearing a coat or covered in SPF 50 sunscreen.

Sources consulted:

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