Musings on IT, data management, whitewater rafting, and backpacking

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

More Weather Data!

Facebook recently announced their Open Compute project. Good stuff for large data centers.

Facebook's design was optimized for the weather in Prineville, OR. No, make that Redmond, OR. Facebook couldn't get good long-term weather data for Prineville, so they used weather data from Redmond instead (see page 8 of this PDF).

Prineville and Redmond are about 16 miles apart.

Does 16 miles make a big difference in the weather?  3 miles?

Boulder Creek, CA, averages 52 inches of rain per year.  San Jose, CA, 16 miles away, averages 14 inches of rain per year. That's a big difference!

While designing our new server room, I searched for nearby long-term weather data.  The nearest official weather station is less than 3 miles away. That station averaged about 40 hours per year above 90°F.

Last year I put a weather station on the roof. The roof is a bad place for measuring weather, but a good place for measuring the air intake to our new HVAC system.

On hot days, our weather station was consistently 10°F cooler than the official weather station. We're closer to the ocean, cooler and windier than the other side of town.

We could have 0 hours per year above 90°F, and no need for any cooling! If I had longer, on-site weather data to back that up, I could have saved a lot of money by not buying an air conditioning system.

If you are thinking about building a server room or data center somewhere, start with local, long time span weather data. But you should install your own high-quality weather station on-site, and start recording. Now.

What about climate change? On average, most places will get hotter, a few places will get cooler, but everywhere will get more extreme weather.  Add whatever fudge factor makes you comfortable.

"Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get."
Robert A. Heinlein, The Notebooks of Lazarus Long.

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