Gospel Oak storm chaser rivals Met Office with £1,000 weather station

PUBLISHED: 11:30 03 November 2014

Ben Lee-Rodgers with his weather station on his roof terrace on the edge of Hampstead Heath. Picture: Polly Hancock

Ben Lee-Rodgers with his weather station on his roof terrace on the edge of Hampstead Heath. Picture: Polly Hancock


It could be mistaken for a bird house at first glance, but hidden inside this unassuming white box lies a collection of high-tech instruments.

It is the work of NW3’s very own storm chaser – a young Cambridge graduate with a passion for weather, and more specifically weather data.

Software developer Ben Lee-Rodgers, 23, has designed and built an amateur weather station to rival the Met Office’s equipment.

It has been gathering detailed meteorological data from the terrace of his Gospel Oak flat, in Savernake Road, ever since his teens.

“It’s about the collecting – people like to collect things and this is just collecting weather,” he said.

“The more data you get, the better it becomes because there’s more to analyse.

“Weather is one of the most interesting natural things because it’s completely unpredictable.”

The solar-powered contraption is covered with a Stevenson screen, which shields out radiation from the temperature and humidity gauges inside.

A funnel on the top feeds into a delicately calibrated seesaw-type device that judges rainfall, while a separate mast high on the flat’s roof collects wind data by using spinning spoons at its tip.

Meanwhile, he has written his own computer program to collect the numbers and upload them to his website, which has daily reports going back to 2009.

The whole lot, including computer server, cost about £1,000 – and provides a resource to match the Met Office’s official station up the hill in Hampstead’s Whitestone Pond.

Mr Lee-Rodgers, a former University College School pupil, admits to sometimes being less-than-forthcoming about his hobby with strangers.

“I usually keep it on the sly for a while,” he said.

“It’s a niche hobby. Some people get it and some won’the said

“There are probably only about 100 or 200 people doing this in the country, and I only know of one other one in London.”

He began building the device shortly after receiving a basic weather recording kit for Christmas, aged 16. He confesses that people “usually do it a bit later in life”.

He added: “The UK is one of the best places because you never know what’s happening, the forecasts are always wrong.

“I would much rather be here than in France or Spain in the summer, where it’s sunny all the time.”

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories


Camden’s youngsters were in the spotlight at the Shaw Theatre for an evening celebrating the borough’s talent.

Yesterday, 15:35

Wage cuts for nurses covering sick leave and other increases in demand at Hampstead’s Royal Free Hospital have been postponed after workers threatened to cancel shifts en masse.

Yesterday, 15:00

Brexit uncertainty is one reason for a slowdown in Camden house prices, said a leading estate agent after new data showed that property values in the borough fell 0.8 per cent in August and 2.1pc in the last 12 months.

Yesterday, 14:05

Tickets for a public meeting into the future of the Phoenix Cinema have sold out within days of it being announced.

Yesterday, 13:57

Mitzvah Day volunteers from Hampstead were among those taking part in Sewa Day – a Hindu day of community action – in Kingsbury, Brent this weekend.

Yesterday, 10:29

As part of National Hate Crime Awareness Week, Haringey Police have been engaging with the community to raise awareness of the importance of reporting abuse and discrimination.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Community groups are celebrating after the owners of the “landmark” Alliance pub in West Hampstead had planning permission for extensive remodelling and redevelopment refused.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Twenty-five people, including eleven in Camden, have been charged with drugs offences after two-days of dawn raids in Camden, Islington, Brent and Lambeth.


Looking to get your child interested in a sport? Allianz Park, home to rugby union team Saracens, welcomes people of all ages to join their family of supporters and discover how their core values Honesty, Discipline, Humility and Work Rate underpin everything they do off and on the pitch.

As part of a major refurb, the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale has renamed its three new-look function rooms to reflect the geography and rich history of the area. The largest, perfect for weddings and large meetings, is named after a Hampstead subterranean river, The Westbourne.

Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now