Monitoring Weather in the Williamstown Area

Since 1983, the Center for Environmental Studies at Williams College has monitored weather in Williamstown at a site in Hopkins Memorial Forest (HMF), a 2600 acre preserve managed for research, education and passive recreation. Archived records currently include:

  • Historic records of precipitation, snowfall and temperature in the Williamstown area derived from several sources
  • 1983-1987-Temperature and precipitation reduced from analog recordings at Weather Station 1
  • 1987-Present-Barometric pressure, precipitation (snowfall beginning in 1994), relative humidity, solar radiation, temperature, and wind speed and direction from digital readings at Weather Station 1.
  • 2004-Present-Water level measured in two wells (shallow has piezometer at -6 m; deep has piezometer at -16 m). Both wells are developed in glacial deposits. Soil temperature is measured 10 and 80 cm below ground surface. Wells and the soil temperature site are adjacent to Weather Station 1.

Beginning in late 2001, improvements in technology allowed streaming of weather data from Weather Station 1 to campus in near-real time. This website allows users to display current meteorological conditions, to search the database of selected weather observations for 1983-present and to use the historic data for precipitation, snowfall and temperature to provide perspective for the modern observations.

Individuals and institutions have recorded systematic observations of weather in Williamstown and nearby communities since the early part of the 19th century (see W. I. Milham, 1950, “Meteorology and meteorological observations in Williams College, also at the Hopkins Memorial. Experimental Forest and in North Adams”). Early measurements consisted of air temperature, daily precipitation, wind direction and sky cover. Snowfall was measured irregularly beginning about 1890 in Williamstown, North Adams and at the Notch Reservoir on the north flank of Mt. Greylock in North Adams. The early records are valuable for the historic perspective that they provide, but many are discontinuous and locally incomplete as institutional needs and weather observers changed over time.