About our Weather Site in Hawaii...
Map below shows position of the Hawaiian Islands in the Pacific Ocean, 2500 miles from the US mainland.
Map below shows the Island of Oahu, which is the highest populated island in the chain. Look towards the lower left side to see the position of Makakilo City -- the home of this weather station. Arrow points towards Honolulu, the capital of the State of Hawaii and is approximately 25 miles away.
Why was this site created?
Where is the Weather station located?
The weather station data here is located in Makakilo, Hawaii, on the island of Oahu, approximately 25 miles from Honolulu. We are at about 350 feet of elevation and on the leeward (dry) side of Oahu. Leeward Oahu receives significantly less rain than other parts of Oahu and on average is warmer during the day by a few degrees as well.
What is the history of this site, and when was it created?
We began operating our site in September 2003 under the domain sophia.sophiajoyce.com. However, the site looked nothing like it does today, as we only had the default weather layout template, being very modest in size. We had few users back then, maybe a dozen or two per day. The site began modifications for a new rollout in December 2004 and was relaunched in January 2005 with its new look and features. Additional features were added as time goes by. We then officially changed the site's name to Hawaiiss.com in mid 2005. Today we enjoy many vistors coming to see our site daily.
What does Hawaiiss.com stand for?
Our domain is based in Hawaii and the two S's stand for our first names -- Steve & Sophia. We wanted to have the shortest possible dot com domain name that would reinforce the Hawaii theme yet still personalize our site.
What makes this site unique?
Our weather site focuses on real weather conditions using a multitude of methods. We have our own weather data gathering system, so you are receiving what the weather is like in Makakilo, Hawaii, and not at the airport. Because we don't have 'airport weather', one can see what it's like in a residential community. On top of that, our in-house weather data is updated every 12 seconds on the internet and every 2 seconds on our host computer -- compare that with National Weather service updates which are only hourly. Furthermore, our webcams are specifically designed to visually depict the terrestrial conditions that one would normally see as if they are there themselves -- only high resolution cams can do this; majority of outdoor webcams in Hawaii are either of very poor quality, situated indoors, or are aimed at non-terrestrial, non-landscape viewing, such as of statues and freeways.
|The original LaCrosse Wind Unit
How this site works.
We are like any other web site, which means we have a webserver somewhere in the world and thus you can access it. In our case, the weather site is hosted on a high performance VPS Xeon Dual Core system on the west coast of the USA with plenty of bandwidth. We used to run the site off a cable modem from my home, but the speeds were too slow and thus the need for dedicated hosting.
Most of the site was developed using Macromedia Dreamweaver. An incredible piece of software, we can redesign the site with ease. I've been designing web sites since the early 90s and nothing compares to the strengths of Dreamweaver, in my opinion. We use PHP for most of the server side scripting, as it's efficient and easy to use. Our weather display software does all the updated weather parsing, in effect it acts like an application server. However, the weather display is located on a computer in my home, which merely uploads data all the time to the main web site you are accessing now. Likewise, the home computer, does all the webcam functions such as collection of images and divx time-lapse movie compression.
What type of weather station hardware is used?
We actually have two different weather station equipment online, one being the LaCrosse 2315 and the other being a Dallas 1-wire with custom sensors.
How is the weather station data transmitted?
The weather station, a LaCrosse 2315, transmits through wired category 5 cables to the base station, which sits adjacent to the local file/weather server here (AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 4200+). The LaCrosse currently contains:
Current Dallas 1-Wire Equipment
1) HobbyBoards Lightning Counter
This unit measures specific electromagnetic fields that lightning produces. Unfortunately, some other devices can trigger it such as electric motors within a few feet away of the detector. Estimated range of the lightning detector is about 30-40 miles. We can put a larger antenna on to get better range but I'll have to experiment further.
2) HobbyBoards Solar Sensor
This device measures light in the visible wavelength.
Unit is integrated with the lightning detector picture above.
3) Dallas AAG 1-Wire Wind speed and directional sensor
This device measures wind speed and direction. There is an internal thermometer inside as well but it unused.
4) HobbyBoards Moisture Meter
This device doesn't do anything on its own. It simply works with the leaf wetness sensor to provide data.
5) HobbyBoards Leaf Wetness Sensor
This device measures moisture by simulating a leaf. By being able to simulate a leaf, moisture (dew) accumulates in the morning and has several different electrical resistance registers that measured it.
6) HobbyBoards Power Injector
This device doesn't provide any weather data on its. Instead, it merely provides DC power to the various weather instruments. Although the 1-wire system can run without power lines, we have a lot of equipment on it and the length of the runs are over a hundred feet away from the computer.
In addition to the 1-wire, we also used a LaCrosse 2315 Weather Station to provide extra data:
1) Wind speed and directional sensor (decommissioned)
2) Rain gauge (roof mount)
3) Thermo/Hygro (outdoor, shaded area)
4) Indoor Barometer
5) Thermo/Hygro (in house)
The raw data is then processed by Weather Display software, and the computer uploads the resulting weather pages to my webserver, which is co-located elsewhere. Weather updates are every five minutes, 24 hours a day. We also send weather data directly to Weatherunderground.com with the zip code of 96707. It is worth noting that it's the Weather Display software that does a lot of the software work, as without it we would find it very difficult to have our weather data hosted to the world.
NOAA Weather Radio Audio Streaming
We are now participating in Weatherunderground's NOAA Weather radio streaming project. Our weather web site will capture the live local broadcast of the local NOAA Weather radio station (KBA99 162.55) and stream it over to the internet so everyone, anywhere, at any time, can listen to it, free of charge. We invite everyone to utilize this great new function. Our local radio that we use is a high quality digital PLL unit from Midland Instruments and is captured through Oddcast software. With the NOAA radio online, people in the State of Hawaii can listen to emergency broadcasts regarding extreme weather, including hurricane, earthquake, and tsunami warnings that are common to Hawaii. Regular weather forecasts and conditions are also reported throughout the day and night.
What kind of web server is this?
We utilize a dedicated hosting provider for the fastest speeds and reliability possible to our viewers, to which we own our own server box. Our web server is a VPS featuring dual core Xeon processors running CentOS Linux. We pay for the hosting services out of our pocket, with some supplement coming from advertising on our site.
How accurate is the weather station data?
The wind sensor has been carefully aligned with an electronic compass so the direction is as true as it can get. The wind sensor is mounted on a pole ontop my roof. Granted, due to the buffering of the surrounding buildings it is somewhat less windy here than what you see reported at airport stations, where wind readings are higher than normal. Please understand that wind readings can vary enormously in Hawaii due to the mountains as well. The temperature sensor is indeed accurate.
The indoor temperature seems really high. Why is this?
Believe it or not, it's the true temperature! The base station is near a computer for one thing, which generates heat so the readings are higher for obvious reasons. The computer sits in an unairconditioned room with poor ventilation. This home has a low ceiling as well, so the hot air gets trapped in the daytime and doesn't dissapate until around midnight.
How do I contact you?
You may contact me directly by filling out the formmail here. Please be sure to use a real email address in your response. I do not collect emails for any purposes other than to communicate with you if you have a question.
How do I interpret the weather data?
There are many other sites that can teach you weather analysis much more than I ever could. However, here in Hawai we have some basics:
If the winds are blowing North or NE ,it's what we call trade winds. These are the so-called "natural airconditioning" system of Hawaii. They blow over the windward mountains, create rain, then carry over to the leeward side as relatively dry air. Therefore, on trade wind days you will see the Ko'olau mountain range socked in with clouds. However, on the leeward side it will be totally dry and without much clouds usually. Temps may be high, but humidity is lower. Majority of days in Hawaii are trade wind days. Also note that Northerly winds (which are remnants from the arctic) during the winter season usually brings colder temperatures.
If however, the winds are blowing S or SW, it is what we call Kona winds. These winds bring terrible conditions. Since the winds blow opposite of Trade winds, the Koolau range is usually clear. However, the leeward sides can get overcast with some locally heavy rains. Since the day is overcast, temps don't get as high but humidity levels soar, so the heat index becomes terrible.
What kind of webcams do you use?
We utilize Nikon cameras for the best in clarity. Our cam software is custom designed.
How often do the webcam operate?
The two cams operate 24 hours a day. As such, we have timelapse videos of the 24 hour previous. Of course, we have occasional downtimes due to maintenance or other issues. The cams require cleaning and housing inspection every few months. The harsh continual sunshine in Hawaii deteriorates outdoor equipment rapidly so this is a pressing issue for us.
Is the old style webpage format still available?
Yes, you may find this page at http://www.hawaiiss.com/weather/oldstyle.htm
This page may be useful to people with older style browsers and while we will continue to support the page indefinitely, it will not be a page that is actively updated with the new weather features, so for best results, please use the main page.
I have my own webserver/webpage would like to use some of your images on your site. Can I hyperlink them?
You may only use direct image or content hyperlinks that are openly available to the public in the resources section. All other images and page content is copyrighted and usage requires permission, this includes all our webcam images. We do review our logs periodically and are able to spot offenders very easily, including offenders using automated web 'grabbing' scripts. Failure to follow our policy may involve your website being permanently blocked. We've worked very hard on this website and are not happy when people steal our content, often without giving any credit to where it came from. If you're truly interested in our images or contents, simply contact us and something can be worked out. You'll be amazed what happens when simply asking for something will get you positive results.
I would like to have a weather site too. Any suggestions?
It all depends on what your budget is. At minimum, one needs to invest at least $150 for an entry level station, and another $70 for weather software to upload on the internet. This also assumes you have an internet connection and a computer to use for the system. The prices from there go up rapidly. You generally get what you pay for when it comes to weather stations -- if you're considering it a hobby remember that a weather station can last for many years.. If you want more guidelines, just drop me a note.
We've had 232535 total unique visitors since our grand reopening in late January 2005. Note these are unique visitors and not simply page counts. If you want to know our page counts, we've had 1564701 pages accessed since January 2005. Note that the numbers are slightly understated as we had to deactivate the stats logging during the days around the great Hawaii earthquake of 2006, when our site was pounded by thousands of users trying to obtain information. We therefore estimate the number to be understated by about 10k in unique visitors.