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Snoqualmie Weather Web site creator’s eye is on the sky

 Mark Davis, creator of the Web site snoqualmieweather.com, monitors local conditions with equipment including a temperature sensor, bottom center, and a Web camera, at his home. - Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Mark Davis, creator of the Web site snoqualmieweather.com, monitors local conditions with equipment including a temperature sensor, bottom center, and a Web camera, at his home.
— image credit: Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record

Some people complain about the weather. Mark Davis does something about it.

The 33-year-old Snoqualmie resident is the sun behind Snoqualmie Weather, a Web site he developed in February 2008 to monitor Mother Nature’s activity in the region.

“I’ve been fascinated with weather since I was in grade school,” Davis said. “I’ve always liked weather events and storms. I was always outside watching the lightning.”

A laser technician by day for a circuit board manufacturer, Davis’s fascination with the Web site hovers over him like clouds over Tiger Mountain.

“Every day I do something to it,” he said. “I think about this at work while I have downtime.”

Investing in the weather

Weather watching is a hobby that shines brightly for Davis, who discovered its inexpensive cost after studying it online.

Davis’ weather station is set up and maintained at his home. His equipment can measure rainfall, wind speed, sunlight, sun energy, temperature and the newest — a lightening detector.

“I’m able to detect a lightning strike within a 50-mile radius,” he said. “I can make it go farther, but that’s where I wanted this to go. “

Because the device recognizes static, Davis said it could even pick up welding if his neighbors lived close enough. “It’s pretty sensitive,” he said. “I have a counter so it automatically tells you how many strikes.”

To detect the geographical location of a strike, he’d need a system that costs approximately $500 – something he hasn’t yet purchased, he explained.

The weather station uses one computer specifically for its data and software and is entirely funded by Davis. The data he collects can get detailed.

“The temp and the wind — that’s the most accurate,” he said. “It’s updated every five seconds if it changes. If not, it updates every five minutes.” A clock icon on his Web site counts down until the next update.

Creating interest

The site’s traffic increases when Mother Nature doesn’t behave.

“When the weather is boring, it’s dead,” he said. “But my site picks up dramatically when it’s flooding because people want to see how much rain we’ve had. Last year it was busy, busy.”

That’s what happened this summer after a heat wave caused unseasonal flooding.

“KOMO-TV called me and mentioned my site during their newscast,” he said. “My counts shot up and I averaged 800 to 1,000 hits each day. That went on for about four or five days.”

He keeps abreast on weather talk through an online forum – “they help me and I help them,” and Weather Display (www.weather-display.com), a software program that provides the most detailed meteorological equipment he’s seen, he said.

With cooler weather at hand, Davis has been battening down the hatches and maintaining his monitoring equipment.

“I don’t want to crawl on the roof when there’s a foot of snow out there,” he said.

Davis is not only pleased with doing something he loves, but seeing that interest returned.

“I got e-mails from students last year at Snoqualmie Elementary School,” he said. “That was just awesome; that made me feel really good. They wanted to know how wind and barometer readings worked. I don’t know if they were doing a report but it was really interesting.

“It’s turned into more than I expected. I guess I just add more stuff for people to see. The more I can offer, the better I can feel. I enjoy it for what it is,” he said.

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