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Thread: Wind sensors on icy mountains

  1. #1
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    Default Wind sensors on icy mountains

    I'm brand new fresh to this forum. I would like to know what kind of sensors are used on Mt Washington to measure wind velocity and direction under such awesome environmental conditions. Our ham radio club would like to put a WX station on a local mountain here in So Cal which also has a terrible icing problem. We would then telemeter the data back on an RF link.

    Do you folks use a hot wire anemometer? What do you use for wind direction?

    Please forgive me if this is the wrong place for this post.

    Dennis N6DD

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    Default

    This post would have fit better in the weather section but general discussion works.

    For wind speed, we use a custon made Pitot-tube anemometer (similar to a Dines anemometer). More information can be read here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pitot_tube. But if you have any familiarity with aircraft, it is almost exactly like what is found on most planes to provide speed. But like what we say on tours, "unlike planes that fly through the air, the air flys past us." It is heated to about 100F year round to keep moisture out. If you want more information, pics, etc, search our actual page and these forums as we have wrote observer comments and forum posts about this system numerous times. For wind direction, we have a wind vane similar to any you find on a weather station. It is not heated unlike the pitot. But with both the vane and the pitot, we have to go up once or twice an hour to de-ice the instruments by hitting there bases with crowbars among other methods.

    As for your needs, it depends on what you consider "bad" icing. Our summit has bad icing (2-5" per hour) and if we didn't de-ice frequently, our 75+ year weather record would not be as good as it is. We have tested several remote sensors and have yet to find one that will replace the need for us as all ultimately fail. But, if I had to suggest two that do alright in lighter icing events, I would suggest an RM Young (http://www.youngusa.com/) alpine anemometer or Vaisala sonic anemometers (http://www.vaisala.com/weather/products/wind.html). The Vaisala is heated and can keep light to moderate icing off but once it becomes heavier, even it can't keep up. One model that kept up well in most icing events was Thies (http://www.thiesclima.com/wind_e.html). It is a German company we tested with and it lasted fairly well in icing on its own but still had trouble being accurate 100% of the time without human help.

    Hopefully these help in your search.
    Ryan Knapp
    Staff Meteorologist/Night Observer, KMWN (Mt Washington Obs., NH)

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    Default Great reply

    Thank you for the thorough answer. It was very helpful.

    -Dennis

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    Default Wind sensors on icy mountains

    Spectacular scenes.
    Good idea for a thread. The one on beaches of the world was very successful and fun to look at.

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