Climate Station Tour
ASOS stationWeather stations have been operating in the United States since at least 1849 when The Smithsonian Institution began supplying weather instruments to telegraph companies. Weather data collection later became the responsibility of the U.S. Army and is now under the control of the National Weather Service, a division of the Department of Commerce.

Early weather data collection was done manually by people on the ground. Forecasters, who needed more information about what was happening in the skies, began using kites to measure temperatures above the ground. They would simply tie thermometers or other instruments to the kite. After letting it fly for a while, they would reel in the kite and record data taken by the instruments.

Weather Station Equipment:
Temperature Dewpoint Sensor
Rain Gauge
Cloud Height Sensor
Precipitation Identification Sensor
Visibility & Day/Night Sensor
Wind Sensor
Traditional Weather Equipment Photo

By the 1940’s military aircraft were being used to make high altitude observations. In the 1960’s the National Weather Service got its first weather satellite and forecasting major weather events became easier. Despite these advances the technology for measuring weather on the ground had changed little.

In 1990 the National Weather Service began updating its ground weather stations with Automated Surface Observing Systems (ASOS). By the mid 1990’s there were 1700 ASOS units operating in the United States. All surface weather information is now collected by ASOS systems but most data is still double-checked using the traditional equipment and all snow measurements are still done manually using the traditional methods.