The San Fran man behind NW3 weather station who keeps an eye on Hampstead’s skies

Ben Lee-Rodgers

Ben Lee-Rodgers - Credit: Archant

As Hampstead fried in last week’s heatwave, one man was keeping his eye on his thermometer – 5,300 miles away.

The NW3 weather station in Savernake Road. Picture: Ben Lee-Rodgers

The NW3 weather station in Savernake Road. Picture: Ben Lee-Rodgers - Credit: Archant

It wasn't a physical scale Ben Lee-Rodgers was watching last week. Instead, he was watching the temperature rise on his website, which tracks the temperature on his weather station.

The former Hampstead local, who spent five years living in the area after moving from East Finchley, is responsible for the NW3 weather station.

Perched atop his mum's flat in Savernake Road, it provides real time weather updates online. It has been running for 10 years, and last week saw it break its own temperature records, despite not scaling the heights seen in Cambridge, where the national record was edged out.

He said: "I was checking all day to see what was happening. We didn't reach the same record in London, but it did break the Hampstead record from 2003. It was quite exciting to see it happen."

Ben started up the station in 2009. He told this newspaper he had been inspired by his dad's station and his own eye for data.

"I'd been interested in the weather for many years, and my father had one in Manchester. So when I was 16 or 17 I bought a station and started collecting the data on Microsoft Excel," he said. "I then learned a little bit about programming and set up the website."

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The website is continually updated by a powerful microcomputer in the station, and features a real-time webcam looking towards the Heath.

The 28-year-old, who now works for Facebook in San Francisco, said he "occasionally" misses the weather back home, adding the fare there is far more consistent than in Hampstead.

His mother, Juliet Rodgers, is supportive of the weather station, despite Ben only returning home about twice a year.

"I'm usually calling her to get it fixed, when the computer freezes or a Windows update shuts it down. The computer's a lot more vulnerable.

"She does love it, actually. I've also built her a sensor for the pond's temperatures on the Heath, so she can monitor that."

With the station fully replaced two years ago, Ben's now hoping it will see many more seasons to come.