Really local weather

Weather station at David Rittenhouse Laboratory

How many layers of clothing should you pile on when the weather turns bitter? You’ll never be caught in the cold—at least not on campus—with the help of Penn’s weather station (above), which perches on the roof of the David Rittenhouse Laboratory.

Funded by the School of Arts and Sciences’ Venture Fund, which promotes the use of technology in the classroom, the station provides a variety of climate-related data, from wind speed to humidity levels to the amount of rainfall. You can get live data at or download the free WeatherBug software at, which will stream neighborhood weather conditions, severe warnings, emergency alerts and forecasts directly to your desktop.

In addition to providing up-to-the-minute weather reports, the station also gives Penn students a chance to peer back in time. “We can look at weather patterns and climate from two or three years ago,” said Yvette Bordeaux (above), associate director for undergraduate programs in earth and environmental science. Her students also use the information to understand how the environment impacts health.

The weather station is now in the process of securing certification from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Officials rely on data like wind speed/direction and surface temperatures to determine the movement of hazards in the air and plan evacuation procedures.


Photo by Daniel R. Burke

Originally published on February 13, 2003