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Station Information

About this website

This website was created as a public service for residents of Saratoga, California.
This weather station is privately owned and operated, is not affiliated with the City of Saratoga, California,
and should not be considered an officially recognized station for weather reporting.

Never base important decisions on this or any weather information obtained from the Internet.

About Saratoga, California

The City of Saratoga is an attractive residential community with excellent schools and unique characteristics. With beginnings in middle 1800's, and incorporated in 1956, the community has a historic downtown district, "Saratoga Village," or "The Village" with distinctive dining and unique shops. The City also is home to Villa Montalvo, the former home of Senator James Duval Phelan which is host to an art gallery, an artist in residence program, concert performances and park trails and grounds. The Mountain Winery in the Saratoga foothills features world-class concerts each Spring and Summer. Hakone Gardens, a City park operated by the Hakone Foundation, is the oldest Japanese-style residential gardens in the Western Hemisphere. More detailed history of Saratoga is available on the Saratoga Chamber of Commerce website and the Saratoga Historical Society website.

Saratoga Map

Money Magazine has included the City of Saratoga as number 26 in it's 2005 annual "Best Places to Live"

The varied terrain of the San Francisco Bay Area cause many microclimates to exist -- Saratoga enjoys a Mediterranian-style climate and usually only two seasons "Spring" and "Fall". Snow is an unusual event, happening about every 15 years in Saratoga proper, but the fringing mountains have snow for a few days each year. Average rainfall is about 22.5 inches. Temperature averages in high 30's in January to mid 80's in July. In all, a lovely place to live, and somewhat boring for a weather enthusiast since it is a microclimate of moderation.

History of the website

My general interest in weather (and geology) started long ago. My first "real" weather station was an Oregon Scientific cabled system. After a couple of years, it was replaced by a Oregon Scientific wireless system. After a couple of more years, I decided it was time for an upgrade, and with retirement came the opportunity to dig into the weather hobby.

Original Website - click to enlargeIn February, 2004, the current Davis Vantage Pro system was installed, and a simple one-page website (see image on right side) was created to display the current conditions using WeatherLink software. The observations were also sent to CWOP and WeatherUnderground. A perl script later, the WeatherUnderground and NWS forecasts were displayed. This design served as the primary Saratoga-Weather.org web presence for about two years until early 2006.

V2.0 Website - click to enlargeAfter joining a couple of weather forums and seeing what others have done to display their weather on personal weather websites, I thought it was time for a major update of my weather website. In October, 2005, I started on a major redesign of the website using a basic CSS template from Dreamweaver 4 as the starting point. In the process, the site morphed from being SHTML into full PHP and went live in February, 2006. You can see the V2.0 site version in the graphic to the left.

The site expanded slowly as I wrote more PHP scripts for it, and I began offering these PHP scripts (for free) to have other weather enthusiasts use them on their PHP personal weather websites. The V2.0 version of the website did have a common page design, but became increasingly hard to maintain since each page had the same 'boilerplate' parts that to change the basic design would mean slogging through all the pages in the site.

After producing the WD/AJAX/PHP template set, I thought it was time to modernize the look and structure of the site once more (and incorporate much of the development work that went into the template sets) into the version 3.0 of the site. The latest version is based on a template called CoolWater 1.0 which has been heavily modified for this site. The site now has common elements drawn from shared included pages, so changes to the overall look/feel or global maintenance is very much easier with this new design. The Version 3.0 of the website was implemented in September, 2009.

I hope you find it useful.

Ken True,
webmaster[at]saratoga-weather.org



Weather Station Hardware

Davis Vantage Pro - 6151c Sensor Unit

The weather station is a Davis Instruments Vantage Pro 6151c (cabled) unit with a fan-aspirated radiation shield for the temperature/humidity sensors. The exterior sensor unit (shown at left) measures wind-speed, wind-direction, rainfall, temperature and humidity, and the interior console unit measures barometric pressure, indoor temperature and humidity. On 22-Mar-2006, the UV and Solar Radiation sensors were added to the exterior sensor unit (making it a Vantage Pro Plus).

The exterior sensor unit is located on the roof using a tripod stand. Unfortunately, really "Good" sensor location was not possible due to nearby trees and a small, covered back yard area. Using Table 8 in the CWOP Weather Station Siting, Performance, and Data Quality Guide gives the siting a score of 17 out of 30. (See more siting info at the CWOP resource page)

Sensor Optimal Sensor location Our station's compromise CWOP Score
Wind speed and direction

32' above ground. No obstructions

Tripod mount with sensor 7' above roof. (approx 34' above ground) 7 of 10
Temperature and Humidity In open, 5 feet above grass. Fan-aspirated temperature/humidity sensor on north wall 5' above ground. 5 of 10
Rainfall In open, 2 feet above grass. Rain gauge on tripod at 5' above roof. 5 of 10

Station History

The station software initially ran on a dedicated laptop (Fry's Electronics RX-7336) under Microsoft Windows XP Home-SP2. Primary data collection is done using Davis WeatherLink. WeatherLink has been collecting data since station start-up in February, 2004.

The Davis Vantage Pro Plus Console is connected to the dedicated laptop via a B&B Electronics Serial Opto-isolator (9POP4) into a PC Card 9-pin RS232 adapter (JJ-PCM012 by SIIG Electronics). The Opto-isolator was used to solve a false high-wind reading during heavy rains (which seemed to be caused by a ground loop).

In February, 2006, a COM port sharing package (GPSGate Standard from Franson) was installed which allowed the installation of Weather-Display V10.32u to peacefully coexist with WeatherLink by listening to the signals from the Davis Vantage Pro console's COM port connection to the laptop.

In March, 2006, the Virtual VP software was installed to replace GPSGate and allows up to 4 programs to access the Vantage Pro Console. I highly recommend Virtual VP if you want to run more than one weather program. On March 22 a UV and Solar sensor set was added to the ISS which makes the station a Vantage Pro Plus.

Netcam facing North-East In April, 2006, a netcam (Panasonic BL-C10A) was installed and Image Salsa used to handle the images and annotation for the netcam page and the thumbnail (shown at left) on the homepage. A simple JavaScript refreshes the thumbnail image every 15 seconds. The weather graphics were modified to include a current UV index graphic.

In July, 2006 a Boltek-PCI Lightning Detector and Astrogenic NexStorm, StormVue and WASP2 were added to the station. The detector is placed in a Schedule-40 ABS housing mounted 5 feet above the roof at the north end of the house. The station is reporting lightning strike data real-time to StrikeStarUS. Special thanks to my son Ryan for braving the 110+ heat in the attic to run the cable and install the mount and mast for the detector on the roof that hot July day! Without his help, there wouldn't be a lightning detector operating on the website.

In August, 2006 the Weather-Display MesoMap Live feature was added to see nearby station's data displayed on a map of the South San Francisco Bay area. The Scripts page was split into multiple pages for better readibility and expansion room as more scripts were added.

In September, 2006 enhanced NEXRAD radar display was added by GRLevel3 software and data-feeds from Allison House (which included lightning data from the US Precision Lightning Network). A SF Bay Tides page was added, thanks to XTide from SLOWeather.com. Weather Display Live updated to V1.15 and Weather Display MesoMapLive updated to V1.03 and a Southwestern US Map was added.

HP s7600y Pavilion Slimline computer In November, 2006 the station software was moved to a new HP s7600y Pavilion Slimline mini-system with Intel Core Duo processors and 1GB RAM, powered by a new UPS system. VirtualVP, WeatherLink, Weather Display, GRLevel3, WASP2 and ImageSalsa were moved to the new system. Unfortunately, the Boltek PCI card was about half an inch too tall to fit in the one PCI slot in the system, so the Boltek card, NexStorm and the Syncom applet (to submit lightning data to StrikeStarUS) remain on the Dell 8200 (which was upgraded with 1GB of RAM and a Nvida 5400 graphic card). The radar page was modified to have a JavaScript successive image display for the GRLevel3 radar, and thanks to Jim McMurry's PHP script, the radar thumbnail at the top of each page is now an animated gif produced from the GRLevel3 radar images. The AJAX conditions display for the sidebar (at left) and homepage was improved with 'green-flash' for changed conditions (like WeatherUnderground) and the WD/AJAX scripts page was updated. The website was checked with the validator.w3.org for XHTML 1.0-Strict compliance, and multiple pages were made compliant (hopefully it will stay that way).
In December, 2006 this website was awarded the WXForum.net Featured Weather Website for Fall, 2006. As I'd said in the writeup about the site for WXForum.net: I want to thank the folks on the old weatherforum.net (now hosted on WXForum.net with lots of the same faces) for all the advice and and discussions. You are the ones who inspired me to develop the weather hobby and the website to report it. I'm very proud to have been a part of resurrecting the weatherforum.net as the current wxforum.net, and thank you all for rejoining our new discussion forum and for keeping Gary Oldham's vision of an independent weather enthusiast's forum alive and well. Featured Weather Website for Fall 2006
Midland WR300 NOAA Weather Radio In February 2007, a Midland WR300 NOAA Weather Radio was set to Channel 7 (162.55MHz) to receive NOAA station KEC49 and now streams 16kb audio to WeatherUnderground via Oddcast software. Several NOAA Radio stations are now available on the Radio page. The website what tuned up a bit, pages now center in the browser window, and a new navigation bar highlights which page is being displayed. A personal forecast page was done with data from WXSIM.

In March 2007, a PHP script was released to format the WXSIM plaintext forecast into icons and condition descriptions. This script and control files was an international development effort and offered translations of the English into Danish, Dutch, French, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish and Swedish.

In May 2007, a PHP script was released to generate an RSS 2.0 feed for the WXSIM forecast.

In July 2007, Virtual Weather Station software was installed to augment the data collection and display. Thanks to SoftWX VirtualVP, up to 4 weather software programs can coexist using the single serial link to the Davis Vantage Pro Plus console.

On 29-Feb-2008, Version 1.00 of the WD/AJAX/PHP website templates was released.

On 06-Jul-2009, Version 2.00 of the WD/AJAX/PHP website templates was released.

In September, 2009, the main Saratoga-Weather.org website was updated to use a modified WD/AJAX/PHP template (multilingual) as the underlying structure. The Version 3.0 of this website is based on the look of a free template called CoolWater 1.0 which has been heavily modified for use here.

On 13-Dec-2009, the communication with the Davis Vantage Pro Plus console failed, so weather contions are being collected in the console, but the weather software is unable to communicate with the console. We expect to be back online with current conditions in early January, 2010. We regret any inconvenience this may cause.

On 07-Jan-2010, the station was back online.

On 18-Mar-2010, the Netcam (Panasonic BL-C10A) developed a lot of communication problems, and despite a firmware update, had to be retired from service. It was replaced with a Logitech Pro 9000 webcam (USB connect to ImageSalsa) and is now providing the sky view to the North-East.

On 10-Apr-2010, the Davis VP Console (serial) to PC connection was replaced by a B&B USO9ML2-LS USB-Serial adapter (isolated). This will hopefully fix the issues that started in December-2009 with intermittent connectivity. I had replaced the former USB-Serial Adapter and the B&B 9POP4 optoisolator (and USB drivers) with no reliable connection found. Sigh. The optoisolated serial port is needed due to a ground-loop with the anemometer (during rain) which resulted in an erronious 110+MPH wind reading.

On 08-Jul-2010, the new Panasonic BB-HCM735A outdoor netcam was installed and replaced the Logitech Pro 9000 inside webcam to provide a much better view of sky conditions in Saratoga.

On 04-Feb-2011, a new set of free AJAX/PHP multilingual templates with support for Weather-Display, VWS, WeatherLink and Cumulus was released. The original Weather-Display/AJAX/PHP template sets released in Feb, 2008 had been the base for over 460 websites worldwide.

On 11-Jun-2013, the old HP s7600y Pavilion Slimline system running the weather station software decided to crash and become unrecoverable. The station software was migrated to an existing Dell Optiplex 330 system (Intel Core2 Duo @2.2GHz, 2GB RAM) running WinXP Pro-SP3. The replacement system was fully operational on 13-Jun-2013 and thanks to Norton Ghost backups, no historical data was lost in the process. I did have to revert to Fling V2.24 from the current V2.28 due to ever-growing non-pagable memory issues with the later release causing system failure about every 18 hrs. The older version was better behaved and allowed the system to remain operational for a month or more (just rebooting with the monthly Microsoft update cycle) Dell Optiplex 330

In August, 2013, the Boltek lightning detector stopped functioning (sadly just before the time a rare lighting event was in our area) and a replacement was ordered. Also, the WinXP-SP3 software on the Dell Optiplex 330 developed a strange intermittent problem which crashed the TCP/IP stack at odd intervals, along with the occassional "Blue Screen". No patch seems to be available, so a new system was ordered. A Blitzortung RED lightning detection kit was ordered with assembly and installation expected soon.

Dell Optiplex 7010MT In September, 2013 the Dell Optiplex 7010MT (Intel Core I5-3570 @3.4GHz, 4GB RAM) system arrived and the weather station software was ported to this new Windows 7 Pro platform. This was a bit more complicated than previous ports as the update to Win7-Pro necessatated replacement of some software with 64bit versions (VSPE for N8VBvCom Driver, NexStorm 64bit version). A replacement Boltek StormTracker PCI card and antenna was received and installed. StormVueNGX was purchased and installed to display near-realtime lightning from the Boltek/NexStorm via a Flash application.
In October, 2013, I completed construction of a Blitzortung "Red" TOA Lightning Detector and joined the Blitzortung Lightning Network as station 802. This was the first PC-board construction I had done for over 35 years .. good thing soldering skills stay with you, but the surface-mount ICs did require a magnifier to properly see for mounting. A 8" foam base shielded loop antenna detector was constructed to work with the system to replace the small ferrite-rod antennas provided with the kit. Unfortunately, I think my neighbor has some electrically-noisy appliance that periodically swamps the detector with noise -- I'm still trying to find the best antenna placement to minimize that. Blitzortung RED controller+amplifier
 
Blitzortung RED controller 8in shielded loop antenna
MINI-ITX Case
 
Intel Atom D2500HN Motherboard

In August, 2014, the main weather station system was again replaced with a Intel Atom D2500HN mini-ITX motherboard housed in a M300 enclosure to save both power and space. The new system motherboard has an Intel Atom 1.86Ghz dual processor D2500, 4GB ram, Intel graphics accelerator, 1Gb Ethernet and a PCI slot for the Boltek PCI lightning detector card (mounted above the board on a right-angle riser). Windows 7-SP1 Pro is the operating system.

With a max power of 80 Watts, the dual processors in the new system are running at 90%+ to keep the station system operating. The prior Dell system in a mini-tower had a 250 Watt and a Intel Core I5 4-processor system. But.. electricity is getting more expensive, so it was time to 'green up'.

The system is running the primary software used for driving the weather website:
Weather-Display, WeatherLink, GRLevel3 radar, ImageSalsa webcam, NexStorm/StormVueNGX/StrikeLink lightning, NOAA radio stream (via edcast to WeatherUnderground) and WXSIM forecasting software.

Support software of StartWatch, VirtualVP, Virtual Serial Port Emulator, XAMPP Apache/PHP server (for webcam real-time), WASP2 lightning (local and for Southwestern Weather Network) and Fling FTP to update the weather website.

Additionally Cumulus and VWS run on this system to drive the test site for the template sets and VirtualVP provides 4 TCP/IP connections for Davis VP logger output for use with other programs for testing (Meteohub on Sheeva-Plug, Meteobridge on TP-Link, WeatherCat on iMac, and a chain port to the development system where 8 more weather software programs can run for testing/integration).

Desktop SARATOGAWX3
Dell Optiplex 7010MT In November, 2014 the Dell Optiplex 7010MT (Intel Core I5-3570 @3.4GHz, 4GB RAM) system resumed it's function as the primary weather station software system. The Atom system was just too under-powered to run all the software needed and stayed pinned at 100% CPU. The Boltek PCI card/lightning detection system was returned to the Dell Optiplex from the Atom system, and is now fully online again.

In January, 2016, I decided to remove all the Adobe Flash from the website. It seems that Flash has replaced Java as 'most vulnerable and most patched' and most security folks (self included) have recommended that it just no longer be used unless absolutely essential. While I am sad to not have Weather-Display Live and Weather-Display Mesonet Map Live linked anymore -- they are both Flash-based and we must say farewell to them.

The NOAA Radio now uses HTML5 (and your browser) to play the audio stream instead of the WU Flash control. Likewise, the Wunderground Live Flash applet is now no longer linked.

In May, 2016, it seems that 1and1 has now limited concurrent FTP connections to 5 simultaneous. This caused me to re-do how the weather software does uploads, so only Weather-Display (2 connections) and Fling (1 connection) was used for the bulk of the FTP uploads to the website. It means that some of the non-Weather-Display results are a bit delayed due to the single-threading of uploads by Fling. Also, the main weather systems was updated from Windows7-Pro to Windows 10-Pro which caused some issues with some legacy software, but most have been mitigated by using compatibility settings where needed.

In July, 2016, we needed to replace the thick-shake roof after a termite treatment, and this meant dismantling the Davis Vantage Pro station on the tripod on the roof -- it had been running faithfully since 2004. Conditions information was provided by a backup Davis Vantage Pro2 station in the back yard. The original Pro temperature/humidity sensor in the FARS stopped reporting humidity (pegged at 100%), so a replacement sensor was ordered. The VPro ISS was split to relocate the FARS temperature/humidity sensors to 5-foot elevation on the North wall of the house with the rain, solar, UV sensors remaining on the tripod on the new roof. The wind vane/anemometer was extended to 7-feet above the roof peak to better report at 32-feet above ground. Since the VPro2 has a slightly different protocol, the VirtualVP software doesn't allow WeatherLink and VWS to fully operate so some parts of the website that use WeatherLink data (NOAA reports, Rain Season Detail, Station Graphs) were not current during the period. The replacement temperature/humidity sensor was received and installed on August 22, and weather conditions reporting returned to normal (Whew!). This new location for the FARS temperature/humidity sensor should better track with ambient conditions in daytime sunlight (the roof mount was showing a +4 degrees during peak daytime).

In September, 2016, I decided to move the website (and the 9 regional networks I host) from 1and1 shared hosting to a new 1and1 Virtual Private Server (2 CPU, 4GB Ram, 50GB disk) system. It was quite a challenge to set up the new VPS with CentOS6/Apache and learn to use Plesk Virtuoso and Plesk Odin to construct and maintain the new system. After porting all the document trees (and pruning a bit from 10+ years of operation), the hard part was disentangling the domains from the old hosting platform to the new (3 were 'built-in' to the shared hosting contract, including saratoga-weather.org, my main domain). I had to change mail platform, but I had offline copies with Thunderbird, so could restore mail fairly easily. The switch to the new hosting took place on 16-September and went fairly smoothly.

In October, 2016, I updated PHP to 7.0.11 and fixed some older scripting that used functions now deprecated in PHP7. I also added Let's Encript certificates to the main and regional network sites, so both http and https access are now available. Additional tuning was done, and we're still working through the odd 500-Server Error that happens. In all, it's nice to be settled in the new site with ample growth space, and no more issues with concurrent FTP/SFTP connections which was happening routinely on the shared hosting platform.

In February, 2017, the Temperature/Humidy sensor was replaced in the FARS for the Davis VP1 system as the old sensor seemed to read 100% humidity too often (should be visible fog when that happens). I also stopped using the WeatherUnderground audiostream server to host my NOAA Radio stream and instead, it is now self-hosted using NCH BroadWave Plus V2.00 on the weather station system. The radio page was updated to reflect the new source for the stream.

In March, 2017, two new pages with data from CoCoRaHS were added:
A map display page showing today's (and other day) rain totals for Santa Clara County with our station location highlighted.
A CoCoRaHS water year summary graphs page which shows the accumulation v.s. Prism normals (1981-2010) for our station. Really shows the drought in 2012-2014 water years!

Station software used

Virtual VP by SoftWX Weather Display  Davis Instruments
Softwx StartWatchV1.1.1 and VirtualVP V1.2.5,
Weather Display V10.37S-(b21), WeatherLink V6.0.3,
Cumulus 1.9.4-b1089, Virtual Weather Station V15.00 p02
Boltek Lightning Detection  Astrogenic NexStorm and StormVue
Astrogenic NexStorm V1.9.1.8120, Astrogenic WASP2 V2.3.3792.22547
NEXRAD radar by GRLevel3 V2.50 with feeds from AllisonHouse
Webcam processing by ImageSalsa V2.0.13
Weather forecasting by WXSIM V2015-Build 1.2 from data collected by WXSIMATE V6.1
NOAA Weather Radio streamed to NOAAWeatherRadio.org via Edcast V3.37.2011.1214
and broadcast directly by BroadWave Plus V2.00.

 

Published data

Current weather data is shared with

The weather data is quality checked by comparing this data to a predicted value based upon an analysis of the data from other local weather stations submitted via CWOP. I receive notifications when this data varies too far from the other stations.. The current quality status can be viewed at CWOP Quality Information for CW1792.

Special thanks goes to:

If you're interested, my PHP scripts and Perl programs driving this website are available for free download on the scripts pages.

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