Setting up Your Weather Station

Setting up your weather station can be a daunting task. These hints may make the task easier. Read all of the sections listed on the right before starting to set up your weather station. Weather Boxes and Weather Apparatus provide ideas of what you need and how you can make your own weather box.

If you find out how things should be done properly, from this website, from other websites, and from good books, you should end up with a useful site. Remember to tell others about your site, then they will know where the data comes from, and anything that is not quite perfect about the site. You might also want to find out if there are any local groups who meet to discuss measuring the weather. One group you might consider is the Climatological Observers Link - COL.

To see more about where to put your weather station see More About Setting up your Weather Station. This page will also show you where to put your weather vane.

The Stevenson Screen

The Stevenson screen was invented by Thomas Stevenson (the father of the famous author of Kidnapped). Its main purpose is to allow the cold and warmth of the temperature to penetrate whilst preventing direct sunshine, wind or rain. This is done by having angled slats around the sides, and a double roof. It is painted white so that it reflects the direct heat of the sun. Readings should always be taken in the shade. This is why we use a special box to store the instruments.


The ideal location is one where the distance from any object is 2.5 to 3 x the height of the nearest tree or building. This means that the trees or buildings will not act as a shield, making the measurements unrepresentative. This is the same for the Stevenson screen and the rain gauge. Bearing in mind other factors (see above) some compromise may have to be achieved. In the photograph on the right this was the best location that could be used in the school.
See more about positioning your Stevenson Screen on the More About Setting up Your Weather Station page.

Height of the Stevenson Screen

The stand of the Stevenson screen should be set in the ground so that the bulbs of the thermometers are at approximately 1.2m (120cm) above the ground.


Underneath the Stevenson Screen

The surface under the Stevenson screen should reflect the local environment. As grass is the norm in the UK most of the weather boxes here are on and surrounded by grass. However if the norm is bare earth, then bare earth should be under the Stevenson screen.



It is better to compromise the quality of the weather data collected than risk the damage of equipment by unwelcome visitors. One of the best places in schools is in a courtyard within the school buildings. This affords some protection from outsiders. Some weather instruments can be quite expensive and need to be kept secure. You may want to put a padlock on the Stevenson screen door to stop anybody resetting the instruments or tampering with them.

Using the Stevenson Screen

The door of the screen should face north so that when it is opened the sun does not shine directly on the instruments. (This relates to weather stations in the northern hemisphere. Reverse it for the southern hemisphere.)
When weather monitors want to look at the instruments they should gently open and lower the door. Rough handling can cause the instruments to give false readings. See this in the video.

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The water reservoir on the wet and dry thermometers needs to be kept topped up. The indicating liquid in the thermometers needs to be monitored, in case it becomes separated. If this happens you will see a gap somewhere in the liquid in the glass tube.
The rain gauge needs to be kept clean.
The Stevenson screen itself needs to be wiped occasionally to remove soot and pollution.

General Notes

In educational establishments a system needs to be set in place whereby only teachers and pupils under supervision are allowed access to the weather station. This is to prevent interference in the form of emptying or filling rain gauges, resetting maximum and minimum thermometers and general damage.
All health and safety concerns should be addressed.