Collinwood Lake resident collects data as WCCO Weather Watcher
By Kristen Miller
Retired high school science teacher and Collinwood Lake resident George Kraemer has been keeping a closer eye on the weather now that he is a part of the WCCO Weather Watcher Network.
Kraemer retired six years ago from Watertown-Mayer High School, where he taught meteorology, earth science, physics, and chemistry.
Though he has a broad interest in the various sciences, he always enjoyed teaching meteorology. “The kids enjoyed it,” he said, noting it was a very popular class because the students found it to be very relevant. “That’s why it’s so easy to teach,” he added.
After retirement, he and his wife, Kate, moved from Delano to their newly built home on Collinwood Lake in rural Dassel.
As president of the Collinwood Lake Community Association, Kraemer participates in the Citizen Lake Monitoring Program. Volunteers in this program record water clarity by taking secchi disk readings and report the readings to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
Being the second wettest June on record (11.36 inches reported at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport), Kraemer reported water clarity went down from 12 feet to just 2.5 feet of clarity on Collinwood Lake.
As a WCCO Weather Watcher, the spring rains also kept Kraemer busy reporting daily rainfall totals to the Twin Cities news station.
Kraemer joined the Weather Watcher Network two years ago after hearing about the volunteer program on a WCCO newscast.
The program not only allows viewers to participate in the weather reporting, but it also gives the meteorologists a better idea of how the weather is changing throughout the region, according to station’s website.
Anyone with a thermometer and a rain gauge can become a weather watcher.
Since Kraemer had all the necessary equipment, he decided to join the network of weather watchers across the state. Currently, there are more than 500 members.
Since then, Kraemer has purchased an Ambient Weather weather station which measures wind speed, wind direction, temperature, humidity, rainfall, and barometric pressure. All of this information is recorded on a hand-held console. He noted the complete kit costs roughly $100.
In the winter, he measures the snowfall by using a ruler to measure the snow on his driveway. Because he gets up early anyway, his readings usually make the morning newscast, he commented.
Kraemer than submits this information online to WCCO for them to report on their newscasts.
He has also submitted several photos, including one he took this spring of the sun shining through the clouds after a 10-day stretch of rain.
Though he has the equipment to read the various weather measurements, Kraemer said all WCCO expects from its Weather Watchers are the temperature and precipitation.
So far, there haven’t been any major severe weather events for him to report (other than 50-60 mile-per-hour winds one day), “This has been an unusual spring,” he said.
In a normal year, a typical rain gauge measurement for one event is around a quarter-inch. “Now, we’re measuring everything in 2 to 4 inches,” Kraemer said.
Working with WCCO’s meteorologists has also been a pleasant experience for him, even though he has missed both of the annual open houses they host for their Weather Watchers because he was out of state.
“They are all very friendly,” he said.
He encourages anyone who is interested to consider joining him in the Weather Watcher Network.
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