Add the ability to manually enter current conditions.
instead of "sky conditions not available for this weather station."
Airports usually must report METAR at least every hour and usually at the top of the hour; and are allowed multiple times SPECI in between for significant changes. For simplicity and to conform with the METAR, I'd say expire then - at the top of the hour or a few minutes thereafter. My second choice suggestion would be 60 minutes from the time of observation, but no more.
So in your example and using this suggestion, if someone reported local conditions for their PWS at 8AM, then it would expire at 9:00AM or 9:05 or whatever. And they'd have to resubmit the conditions for the next hour.
But that's why I really like the idea to revert to airport conditions. Because much of the time, the conditions would be similar and I'd just leave it. When there's something interesting happening that's different than the local airport, that is when the added value of local conditions falls into place.
For PWS that are not associated with airport, then it would simply expire and go back to showing no conditions.
The website would probably need to clarify where the conditions where taken from. Just thinkin'.
This is an interesting idea.
I'm wondering if you all have thoughts on how long a reported condition should last. For instance, if I report fog at 8AM, for how long should that be valid? If it's only a short period of time, that would require a lot of updating on behalf of the owner. If the time period is long, we risk being inaccurate.
Yeah, with a webcam, you can kinda-sorta see the sky and weather. I don't think you can tell the difference between different types of weather: Fog versus Drizzle, for example. Ice pellets would be hard to see cause visibility can be fair. And wouldn't it be nice to actually report that you're seeing a Tornado, but oops, i'm sorry, your webcam is pointing the wrong way!
I think it would add value because, for example, sometimes my local airport 15 miles away may be reporting weather which is not happening at my site and visa-versa. And that's if your lucky your local airport has a person looking outdoors. A fraction of the time, the auto stations don't quite get it right.
The official aviation list of weather is quite long. I'd suggest at a selection list which consider some of these:
Clear Sky, Few clouds, Scattered clouds, Broken clouds, Overcast clouds, Funnel Cloud, Tornado, Thundershowers, Rain, Rain Showers, Freezing Rain, Drizzle, Freezing Drizzle, Snow, Snow Showers, Snow Grains, Snow Pellets (small hail), Blowing Snow, Drifting Snow, Ice Pellets, Ice Crystals, Hail, Fog, Mist, Freezing Fog, Haze, Smoke. Though some of those could be taken out.
Might also need some intensities to say light, moderate or heavy. This might be a problem because many people might not understand the visibility differences for each intensity. Might need to have a little explanation to guide a user, or just simplify the whole thing by not allowing intensities.
Other possible codes include Sand and Dust (blowing, dritfing, storm) and Volcanic Ash.
Anyway, I'm in support of this idea. When I'm at home on evenings and weekends, I'd gladly report conditions, especially when there's something interesting to report. And it's kinda nice that it could fall back on my local airport's conditions.
Why isn't a thumbnail of the associated webcam shown. Surely that would provide the most accurate view.
I agree a way to report manned wx and/or sky conditions could add value. Currently the site appears to associate my PWS with the nearest airport's sky/wx conditions. Automatic unmanned stations are notoriously bad at reporting wx and sometimes sky. It is much better than nothing for unmanned PWS. Just some ideas/thoughts: 1) Could be provided through My Weather Stations much like the Station Status. and/or 2) include data field(s) for the various software programs to deliver the info to wunderground. 3) probably would need a set time to expire stale reported conditions to fallback to unmanned and revert to the nearest airport conditions. 4) The biggest issue is that you would want to normalize what could be reported rather than open text, so you don't get foolish comments like 'raining cats and dogs'.