The Detroit Post
Friday, 26 February, 2021

Do Weather Stations Use Fahrenheit

Earl Hamilton
• Wednesday, 06 January, 2021
• 8 min read

If you're an American and you've ever had a conversation with someone from another country about the weather, you've probably been a little confused when he or she says that the afternoon temperature is a nice 21 degrees. The persistence of Fahrenheit is one of those puzzling American idiosyncrasies, the equivalent of how the U.S. uses the word soccer to describe what the rest of the planet calls football.



Nevertheless, the system apparently sounded pretty good to officials of the British Empire, who adopted Fahrenheit as their standard temperature scale, which is how it eventually became established in the American colonies as well. Meanwhile, though, in 1742, a Swedish astronomer named Andes Celsius came up with a less unwieldy system based on multiples of 10, in which there was a precisely 100 degree difference between the freezing and boiling temperatures of water at sea level.

The neat 100-degree symmetry of the Celsius scale made it a natural fit for the metric system, which was formally developed by the French in the late 1700s. But the English-speaking world nevertheless clung stubbornly to its preference for awkward units such as the pound and the inch, and Fahrenheit went along for the ride.

Yet, the News is more attuned to metric than TV meteorologists, most of whom are catering to their audiences and seldom if ever use degrees Celsius, except maybe some stations near our borders with Canada and Mexico?” Jay Hendricks, who heads NIST's Thermodynamic Metrology Group, points out that the Fahrenheit scale does have one significant advantage.

$\begingroup$ This tweet from the National Weather Service in Lacrosse, Wisconsin, USA says: We have officially hit -30 here at the News La Crosse office as of 520 a.m.

The -30's are getting close to where the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales tend to have similar numerical values, so there's no way to use context in this case to choose the most likely answer. No units are shown on the front panel, and these instructions offer no help either.


Is the maximum daytime or minimum overnight temperature in degrees Fahrenheit. In reality, the News and CDC weather forecast model outputs for the different systems (GFS, NAM, Carr ...) use temperatures in Kelvin.

This satisfies the international standards (e.g., CF1.6 convention compliant) and also avoids issues with advecting fields (in this case) that are equal to zero in some locations. Afterward, in post-processing the temperature is transformed to either Celsius or more commonly Fahrenheit for public consumption.

Scientists and meteorological researchers are more used to Kelvin and/or degrees Celsius. $\begingroup$ I don't know about the full Weather Service, but that device only shows Fahrenheit measurements.

On 1 April 2016, the Weather Channel posted an article on their Medium page announcing that they had implemented a new policy under which they would be using the Celsius temperature scale exclusively and dropping any references to the Fahrenheit scale used in the U.S. (and elsewhere): After much debate, The Weather Channel is proud to announce that, effective immediately, the television network will be using the Celsius scale to report temperatures.

Outsiders have speculated that the move is part of an effort to make The Weather Channel a more attractive weather provider to countries around the world, but a company spokesperson says this simply isn’t true. “While we always want to be inclusive of the global world that we all live in these days, the simple truth is that, after much internal deliberation, we’ve determined that it just doesn’t make sense for water to freeze at 32°.

Once the thermometer's temperature balances that of the surrounding air, its liquid will stop moving. The physical rise and fall of the liquid inside a thermometer is only part of what makes it work.

In this way, the temperatures attached to a thermometer's glass play a key (albeit passive) role. That's because the thermometer developed from a compilation of ideas through the 16th to 18th centuries, starting in the late 1500s when Galileo Galilei developed a device using a water-filled glass tube with weighted glass buoys that would float high in the tube or sink depending on the hotness or coldness of air outside it (sort of like a lava lamp).

The thermometer didn't take on the shape we use today until Ferdinand I DE' Medici redesigned it as a sealed tube having a bulb and stem (and filled with alcohol) in the mid-1600s. Finally, in the 1720s, Fahrenheit took this design and “bettered it” when he began using mercury (instead of alcohol or water) and fastened his own temperature scale to it.

By using mercury (which has a lower freezing point, and whose expansion and contraction is more visible than water's or alcohol's), Fahrenheit's thermometer allowed temperatures below freezing to be observed and more precise measurements to be observed. Also called bulb thermometers, these basic thermometers are still used in Stevenson Screen weather stations nationwide by National Weather Service Cooperative Weather Observers when taking the daily maximum and minimum temperature observations.

They're made of a glass tube (the “stem”) with a round chamber (the “bulb”) at one end that houses the liquid used to measure the temperature. It uses a strip of two different metals (usually steel and copper) which expand at different rates to sense temperatures.

The metals' two different expansion rates force the strip to bend one way if heated above its initial temperature, and in the opposite direction if cooled below it. Thermoelectric thermometers are digital devices that use an electronic sensor (called a “Hermiston”) to generate an electric voltage.

EXAMPLE: Show temperature in Fahrenheit and Celsius in Weather app 1 Open the Weather app.2 Press the Alt + Enter keys to toggle the temperature to Fahrenheit or Celsius for what you want.

1 Open the Weather app.2 Click/tap on the F (Fahrenheit) or C (Celsius) letter next to the temperature for what you want. 1 Open the Weather app.2 Click/tap on the Settings (gear) icon, and select (dot) Fahrenheit or Celsius under the Show temperature in setting in the General tab.

Any ideas how to accomplish this via command line ~ meaning automatically (probably no registry settings for that)? As many of you know, the Stevenson Screen aka Cotton Region Shelter (CRS), such as the one below, houses a Tax and Thin recording mercury and alcohol thermometer.

My main points are that in climatology many important factors that are accounted for in other areas of science and engineering are completely ignored by many scientists: It is actually quite difficult to measure things accurately, yet most people just assume that information they are given is “spot on”.

A significant number of scientists and mathematicians also do not seem to realize how the data they are working with is often not very accurate. Over the years as part of my job I have read dozens of papers based on pressure and temperature records where no reference is made to the instruments used to acquire the data, or their calibration history.

This example of resolution is where observing the temperature is under perfect conditions, and you have been properly trained to read a thermometer. In the oil industry it is common to accept an error margin of 2-4% when using manually acquired data for example.

A -20c to +50c mercury thermometer packaging will state the accuracy of the instrument is +/-0.75c for example, yet frequently this information is not incorporated into statistical calculations used in climatology. This is usually (incorrectly) rounded to two decimal places =: 15.55c without any explanation as to why this level of resolution has been selected.

The short maximum length of the wiring connecting the electronic sensors introduced in the late 20th century moved a host of Stevenson Screens much closer to inhabited structures. As Anthony’s study showed, this has had an effect on trends that I think is still not properly accounted for, and certainly wasn’t expected at the time.

Third, in lovely repulsiveness, there is a limit on the law of large numbers as it applies to measurements. Fourth, if the errors are not random normal, your assumption that everything averages out may (I emphasize may) be in trouble.

I have read (but haven’t been able to verify) that under Soviet rule, cities in Siberia received government funds and fuel based on how cold it was. Makes sense, when it’s cold you have to heat more, takes money and fuel.

But of course, everyone knew that, so subtracting a few degrees from the winter temperatures became standard practice … I hold that in the real world, you can gain maybe an order of magnitude by repeat measurements, but not much beyond that, absent special circumstances.

This is because despite global efforts to kill him, Murphy still lives, and so no matter how much we’d like it to work out perfectly, errors won’t be normal, and biases won’t cancel, and crucial data will be missing, and a thermometer will be broken and the new one reads higher, and … Finally, I would back Steven Mother to the hilt when he tells people to generate some pseudo-data, add some random numbers, and see what comes out.

I find that actually giving things a try is often far better than profound and erudite discussion, no matter how learned.

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