The joy of weather stations

Nowadays, with Wi-Fi-enabled devices there to give us the weather forecast at the touch of a button, many would find it increasingly difficult to remember some of the alternatives once in widespread usage. Whilst some of the more rudimentary devices have since been consigned to the annuls of history, many weather stations are still available, forecasting conditions in a much more in-depth and localised fashion than basic apps ever could.

In celebration of these devices, below are a number of variations, many of which are still made today, which show a little more information about the weather than a colourful image of the sun peeping from behind a cloud.

The origins

Barometers and thermometers are most certainly not new inventions, but instead have been around for hundreds of years. The first widely-used devices, in fact, were manufactured in the 17th century, when Galileo and his contemporaries began laying the foundations of what would end up influencing modern-day weather forecasting.

Despite giving his name to an early thermometer, however, Galileo didn’t invent the device; it was instead a protégé of his. At around the same time (the mid-1600s), a simple syphon and vacuum device began exciting mathematicians and physicists, who would go on to create the earliest barometers.


These days, barometers aren’t the huge-scale devices of old that needed a 20-metre hill to work. Instead, they can be fitted into the smallest of spaces, including smartphones which use the devices for quicker and more accurate GPS placement.

On domestic weather stations, these barometers are placed onto the outdoor sensors, which can then relate information back to the individual via their user-friendly interface, which gives an accurate, up-to-the-second report on weather conditions.

Analogue barometers, on the other hand, offer similarly exact readings but do so directly, instead of feeding the information through a digital programme. Often set up to look similar to a wall-clock, these barometers have a hand which indicates the level of pressure, which illustrates what the weather is set to do. The higher the reading, the better the weather.

Rain gauges

Rain gauges are devices for those who need to be aware of minuscule changes in rainfall which work, quite simple, by catching precipitation then relaying the in-depth measurements back to a hub device. Some can also be fitted with user-set alarms so that if levels reach dangerous thresholds then they can alert the individual straight away.

These not only offer rainfall volumes, however, but also indicate outdoor temperature, giving the user a much clearer idea of the outside conditions. They can prove invaluable to farmers or anyone growing vegetation, as rainfall volumes can often mean the difference between a bumper crop and a spoiled one.


Similar to barometers (and often featuring jointly on the same device) are hygrometers, which are used to measure moisture content in the air. Utilised indoors, hygrometers can be vital to warning their owners of high levels of humidity which could prove vital in such places as museums or galleries where it could be damaging for the exhibits.

So whilst smartphones are now many people’s first port of call when it comes to checking the weather, there is still a whole host of other devices to not only offer a more old-fashioned way around it, but also a more in-depth one too. 

Niamh Carter writes blog about electronics in her spare time and is an early adopter of new technologies. Niamh is married with two children and lives in London  


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