The SandCastle Son and your humble host spent the evening training to join the SkyWarn network. We have our SkyWarn member ID numbers and in theory know the difference between a bonafide tornado and the usual imposters. More important, we learned what phenomena they are interested in, and how to report.
Tornadoes are pretty rare in these parts, but we do get plenty of weather phenomena worthy of note: Severe thunderstorms, flash floods, hail, heavy rain, sustained dust storms, etc.
The SandCastle is only a couple miles from our local towered municipal airport where the controllers are certified weather observers. However the class D airspace disappears at 9PM local, and there is much exciting weather after they shutter the tower and the airspace reverts to class G.
Also the SCSon seems to have a school requirement for "community service" (Is mandatory volunteerism actually voluntary?) This may check the box and in a far more interesting way then the ones they propose.
One of the questions on the registration form was "Do you have a rain gauge?" I answered "Not Yet". IOW I'm willing to shell out some shekels to set one up to satisfy my inner WX geek and by extension through the SkyWarn network, the public good. I first have to coordinate with the HOA CCR's, but I don't recall any restrictions (OTOH, the general attitude of the CCRs is "everything is banned unless specifically allowed..."). Ideally we'd have the sensors mounted well above the roof to avoid surface anomalies.
In the meantime, I'm open to weather station recommendations? I'm be interested in something I can connect to the computer and post current conditions and graphs of past weather reports, maybe add some "current conditions" widget here to the webpage. Amazon offers some solutions starting in the low C-note range. Scientific Instruments has some in the 2-3x C-note range but it's not clear if that connects to the computer (since they don't mention it does, I assume it doesn't).
The other problem is the physical weather conditions we experience here in the Sonoran Desert and how well the hardware will withstand the conditions. Some of the comments suggest the hardware will not survive the local climate. The plastic parts just can't take the heat.
There are hard metal solutions that will survive the heat but these tend to be North of a kilo-buck and thus out of the budget.
Ideas? I'm open.
Update: I just ordered one of these. The price is in budget and does a whole lot more than I had in mind. Dad has had an older version of this for several years and he gave it a thumbs up. Now he lives in Northern CA, a climate a little more benign than the Sonoran Desert. We'll see how long it lasts. But Oregon Scientific is a respected name and they've been around as long as I can remember. Will advise on the longevity.