2020 Stormstown Weather Summary

Overall, the year’s temperatures were above normal. The annual mean of 52.1 F was 2.0 F above normal. Of course the main event of 2020 was the drought. The annual precipitation of 36.46 inches was 4.24 inches below normal. Most of Centre County was in a severe drought in September.

However, at the end of the year, the drought in Centre County was essentially over.

2020 Weather Data

January

Snowfall on January 7, 2020

January was mild with a monthly mean of 33.2 F, which was 5.1 F above normal, with a high of 64 F and a low for the month of 9 F. Precipitation was 1.07 inches below normal with 2.04 inches of liquid precipitation.

February

The mild winter continued into February which was 5.5 F above normal. The high was 62 F and the low was 6 F, which was also the low for the year. Precipitation was 0.60 inches above normal at 2.87 inches.

March

Dusting of snow on Bald Eagle Ridge on March 15, 2020

March temperatures were also mild at 6.0 F above normal with a high of 73 F and a low of 22 F. Precipitation was 1.71 inches above normal with 5.26 inches of liquid precipitation. The high wind speed for the month and year was 47 mph.

April

Dusting of snow on Bald Eagle Ridge on April 18, 2020

Temperatures were 3.1 F below normal in April. The high was 70 F and the low was 24 F. Rainfall was 1.67 inches above normal at 5.06 inches.

May

Spring did finally arrive in mid-May. Bald Eagle Ridge on May 31, 2020

Spring temperatures continued to be cooler than normal in spite of a mild March. May was 2 F below normal with a high of 86 F and a low of 27 F. Precipitation was 1.72 inches which was 1.51 inches below normal. This was perhaps the harbinger of the future drought conditions. The last day of temperatures below freezing was May 13.

June

Temperatures for the month were near normal. The high was 88 F and the low was 41 F. Precipitation was 0.94 inches above normal with 4.80 inches of rainfall.

July

July was the warmest month of the year. The temperatures were 3 F above normal. The high for the month and year was 95 F and the low was 55 F. Rainfall was 2.27 inches below normal with 1.19 inches of precipitation.

July also gave us outstanding views of Comet Neowise.

Comet Neowise from Stormstown, PA

August

Forest fires in the western U.S. provided spectacular sunsets. August 15, 2020

The month’s temperatures were 2 F above normal. The high was 93 F and the low was 47 F. Precipitation was 2.66 inches below normal at 3.42 inches. The drought was getting severe.

September

Hazy sunset due to the western forest fires. September 22, 2020

Temperatures were near normal this month. The high was 86 F and the low was 32 F. Drought conditions continued with 2.61 inches of rainfall. This was 1.37 inches below normal. The first freeze of the season was September 20.

October

Fall foliage, Sormstown, October 9, 2020

October was warmer at 1.0 F above normal. The high was 81 F and the low was 28 F. Rainfall was below normal at 2.96 inches, which was 0.38 inches below normal.

November

Temperatures were mild in November and were 3.7 F above normal. The high was 76 F and the low was 22 F. Precipitation was 3.44 inches, 0.20 inches above normal.

December

December was the coldest month of 2020. The mean temperature was 32.6 F. The temperatures were 0.8 F above normal. The high was 55 F and the low was 11 F. Precipitation was 0.10 inches below normal at 1.88 inches.

December 17, 2020

15.5” of snow was recorded on December 16-17

2020 Insolation

2020 Daily Solar Radiation W/m**2

December 2020 Weather Summary

December was 0.8 deg F above normal for temperature. The high for the month was 55.3 deg. F, recorded on December 11. The low for the month was 12.9 deg F, recorded on December 19. There were 25 days when the minimum temperature was at or below 32 F and 5 days when the maximum temperature was at or below 32 F. There were 1003 heating degree days and 0 cooling degree days.

December was a near-normal month for precipitation with 3.03 inches of rainfall recorded, which was 0.10 inches below normal. The maximum rainfall in a single day was 1.88 inches recorded on December 24. There were 12 days of rain >.01 in, 5 >.10 in and 1 > 1 in.

High wind speed of 36 mph on December 2.

Snowfall on December 16-17: 15.5 inches

December 2020 Data

Outlook for January 2021

The drought in Centre County is essentially over.

Summary of Autumn 2020

Meteorological Autumn is officially over. Here is a brief summary of September 1-November 30 in Stormstown, PA:  

Number of days Max T >= 90 F: 0

Number of Days Max T <= 32 F: 0

Number of Days Min T <= 32 F: 10

Max T: 85.9 F – September 8, 2020

Min T: 22.0 F – November 19, 2020

Sep Dep from Normal: -0.4 F

Oct Dep from Normal: 1.0 F

Nov Dep from Normal: 3.7F

Heating Degree Days: 1176

Cooling Degree Days: 117

Sep Precip: 2.61″, 1.37″ below normal

Oct Precip: 2.96″, 0.38″ below normal

Nov Precip: 3.44″, 0.20″ above normal

The outlook for Winter 2020:

November 2020 Weather Summary

November was 3.7 deg F above normal for temperature. The high for the month was 76.0 deg. F, recorded on November 8. The low for the month was 22.0 deg F, recorded on November 19. There were 8 days at or below 32 F and 0 days when the maximum temperature was at or below 32 F. There were 593 heating degree days and 8 cooling degree days.

November was a above-normal month for precipitation with 3.44 inches of rainfall recorded, which was 0.20 inches above normal. The maximum rainfall in a single day was 1.24 inches recorded on November 11. There were 9 days of rain >.01 in, 8 >.10 in and 1 > 1 in.

High wind speed of 39 mph on November 1.

November 2020 Data

Outlook for December 2020

METAR LED Map

For an anniversary gift I ordered and received the following framed map from my wife.

METAR LED map.

It is an aviation map of western Pennsylvania with a multicolor LED placed at each airport location that issues METARs (METeorological Terminal Aviation routine weather Report). The color of each LED indicates the ceiling and visibility.

Color Code

  1. VFR (>3000ft ceilings and >5nm visibility) = Green
  2. MFR (1000-3000ft ceilings and 3-5nm visibility) = Blue
  3. IFR (500-1000ft ceilings and 1-3nm visibility) = Red
  4. LIFR (<500ft ceilings or <1nm visibility) = Purple
  5. Smoke = Gray
  6. METAR older than 6 hours = Blank

METAR data are processed by a Raspberry Pi, a low-cost single-board computer, which is fastened behind the map. Data are received via a WiFi connection every five minutes. The brightness of the LEDs also changes for day/night conditions.

Edmund Fitzgerald Storm

Today is the 45th anniversary of the wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald. A colleague of mine, and former roommate at SUNY-Oswego, asked if the storm that sank the ship, also affected Oswego, NY, on that fateful day (November 10, 1975). One of the advantages of being retired is having the time to do such research.

I found the following weather maps from an article in The May 2006 issue of The Bulletin of The American Meteorological Society (BAMS): Reexamination of the 9–10 November 1975 “Edmund Fitzgerald” Storm Using Today’s Technology.

Synoptic Charts for November 10, 1975, Oswego, NY marked by the green crosses.
850 mb Analysis for November 10, 1975 1200 UTC. -5 C, 0 C, 5 C isotherms marked by the blue, yellow and red lines, respectively.

I also obtained the weather records from November 1975 for Oswego, NY from The National Centers for Environmental Information.

Weather data for Oswego, NY,November 1975.
Enlarged Image of Oswego Data for November 1975

The high of 69 F and low of 52 F, quite warm for that time of year, confirms that Oswego, was in the warm sector of the storm system as a warm front passed through the area. The surface and 850 mb analysis shows the winds in Oswego were from the south and not off Lake Ontario. Exact wind speeds can not be ascertained from the charts, but judging from the tight isobars and geopotential isopleths, it was probably brisk and accounts for the warm air advection. Also, 1.15 inches of rain fell during the day. A cold front moved through later that evening.

So The Edmund Fitzgerald Storm did affect SUNY-Oswego on Monday, November 10, 1975.

Mail Chime Hack

For several years, I have had a Hanna Products Mail Chime installed on my outdoor mailbox with an indoor receiver. The transmitter is attached to the door of the mailbox. When the door is opened a gravity switch is closed and a signal is sent to the receiver. The receiver sounds an alert and illuminates an LED lamp. The lamp is reset by a momentary contact push-to-close button switch.

I took a receiver apart to see if I could make a simple hack to have a Raspberry Pi sense when the LED lamp was on and then send an email to one of my accounts to indicated the mailbox door had been opened. Another function is to send a signal to a relay module to reset the LED lamp to off.

The project requires some programming skills with Linux and Python, a basic understanding of some electronic components, and some soldering is required. I had my project operating in three short evenings.

Parts List

Hanna Products, Inc. Mail Chime – Amazon $55
Raspberry Pi Model B – Amazon $56
2 1K ohm resisters – Amazon, pack of 100, $6
1 DaFuRui 8Pcs DC 5V 1 Channel Relay Module – Amazon, pack of 8, $13
1 MCP3008 Microchip – Amazon, Pack of 4, $12.50
1 breadboard – Amazon, ELEGOO 3pcs MB-102, $9
Jumper wires – Amazon, Elegoo EL-CP-004, $7

Optional:
Raspberry Pi breakout board and ribbon cable
A case for the Raspberry Pi.

Tools:
Soldering iron and solder
Phillips head screwdriver
Small flathead screwdriver wire stripper

The following is the schematic for the project.

Note the half-moon indentation at one end of the MCP3008 microchip. This will orient the chip to access the correct pins.

Begin by opening the bottom of the mail chime. One phillips screw holds the bottom panel to the housing. The printed circuit board is not fastened to the housing. Then solder 4 jumper wires to the printed circuit board inside of the disassembled mail chime as shown.

Mail Chime Printed Circuit Board

Then plugin the MCP3008 Microchip, and the 2 1K ohm resistors to the breadboard. Then connect the various jumper wires on the breadboard, and from the breadboard to the Raspberry Pi, the relay module and the mail chime. Use the schematic and photograph as guidance. I used a Raspberry Pi breakout board to easily identify the Raspberry Pi connections.

The resistors act as a voltage splitter to decrease the voltage going to the MCP3008 CH0 pin.

Mail chime printed circuit board connected to the bread board.
All components connected.

Use the small flathead screwdriver to connect the jumper wires to the relay module.

Python Scripts

Python scripts are placed in the following directory on the Raspberry Pi:

/home/pi/projects/mailbox/

Note that the indented lines in the following Python scripts are indented with tabs, not spaces.

read_volt.py

#!/usr/bin/python3
import spidev, time
import time
import datetime
import os
 
#Open SPI bus
spi = spidev.SpiDev()
spi.open(0, 0)
spi.max_speed_hz=1000000

#Function to read SPI data from MCP3008 chip
#Channel must be an integer 0-7
def ReadChannel(channel):
     adc = spi.xfer2([1, (8 + channel) << 4, 0])
     data = ((adc[1]&3) << 8) + adc[2]
     return data
#Function to convert data to voltage level
#rounded to specified number of decimal places
def ConvertVolts(data,places):
     volts = (data * 3.3) / float(1023)
     volts = round(volts,places)
     return volts

mySendMail = '/home/pi/projects/mailbox/mail.py'
myResetChime = '/home/pi/projects/mailbox/reset.py'
print ("Check mail was run.")

reading = ReadChannel(0)
voltage = ConvertVolts(reading,2)
print("Reading=%d\tVoltage=%.2f" % (reading, voltage))

#If voltage is greater than or equal to 0.75 V then send an e-#mail
 
if (voltage >= 0.75):
     os.system(mySendMail)
     now = datetime.datetime.now()
     print("Mailbox was opened at: ")
     print(now.strftime('%H:%M %Y-%m-%d'))
     time.sleep(60)
     os.system(myResetChime)
     print("Mailbox Chime has been reset.")

mail.py

#!/usr/bin/python3
import smtplib
import datetime
GMAIL_USER = "user@gmail.com"
GMAIL_PASS = "password"
now = datetime.datetime.now()
text = 'Your mail box has been opened!!!\n\n'
text = text + 'Time: '+now.strftime("%H:%M:%S %Y-%m-%d")+'\n\n'
sent_from = GMAIL_USER 
to = ['wx2dx_bill@verizon.net']
subject = 'Mailbox Alert'
body = text
email_text = """\
From: %s
To: %s
Subject: %s

%s
""" % (sent_from, ", ".join(to), subject, body)

try:
     server = smtplib.SMTP('smtp.gmail.com', 587)
     server.starttls()
     server.login(GMAIL_USER, GMAIL_PASS)
     server.sendmail(sent_from, to, email_text)

 except Exception as e:
     print(e)

 finally:
     server.quit()  

reset.py

#/usr/bin/python3
import RPi.GPIO as GPIO
import time
 
in1 = 16

GPIO.setmode(GPIO.BCM)
GPIO.setup(in1, GPIO.OUT)
 
GPIO.output(in1, GPIO.LOW)   
 
time.sleep(0.25)
GPIO.output(in1, GPIO.HIGH)
 
time.sleep(1)
 
GPIO.output(in1, GPIO.LOW)   
 
GPIO.cleanup()

Crontab Settings

Enter the following one line using the crontab -e command.

0,5,10,15,20,25,30,35,40,45,50,55 * * * * /home/pi/projects/mailbox/read_volt.py >> /home/pi/projects/mailbox/mailbox.log 2>&1

Crontab will run the read_volt.py Python script every 5 minutes. Any output to standard output and standard error will be written to the mailbox.log file for trouble shooting purposes. When the mail chime is triggered by the mailbox door sensor, there will be current to the mail chime LED, which is then detected by the MCP3008 microchip at CH0. This in turn triggers the code to send an email, then after 60 seconds, the relay is actuated to reset the mail chime.

October 2020 Weather Summary

October was 1.0 deg F above normal for temperature. The high for the month was 80.6 deg. F recorded on October 22. The low for the month was 27.7 deg F, recorded on Oct 17. There were 0 days at or above 90 deg F and 1 day at or below 32 deg F. There were 412 heating degree days and 21 cooling degree days.

The drought continued into October with below normal precipitation of 2.96 inches of rainfall recorded, which was 0.38 inches below normal. The maximum rainfall in a single day was 1.16 inches recorded on October 29. There were 15 days of rain >.01 in, 8 >.10 in and 1 > 1 in.

High wind speed of 37 mph on October 7.

October 2020 Data

Outlook for November 2020

September 2020 Weather Summary

September was 0.4 deg F below normal for temperature. The high for the month was 85.9 deg. F recorded on September 8. The low for the month was 32.0 deg F, recorded on September 20. There were 0 days at or above 90 deg F and 1 day at or below 32 deg F. There were 171 heating degree days and 88 cooling degree days.

The drought continued into September with below normal precipitation of 2.61 inches of rainfall recorded, which was 1.37 inches below normal. The maximum rainfall in a single day was 1.34 inches recorded on September 29. There were 5 days of rain >.01 in, 5 >.10 in and 1 > 1 in.

High wind speed of 24 mph on September 23.

September 2020 Data

Outlook for October 2020

Drought Eases

I have recorded 1.89 inches of rainfall since last Thursday. The drought isn’t over yet, but there are signs that it is improving.

Most of Centre County is still experiencing a moderate drought. However, our little corner of the county is now abnormally dry. The outlook for the rest of September indicates equal chances for normal rainfall (about 4 inches on average).