VERNON - Every morning, Bob Davison feeds the donkey, followed by the goats, and then trudges out to his Stevenson Screen to get a data reading for Environment Canada.
‘Grandpa Bob’ as most call him, the spry 84-year-old is one of the country’s volunteer weather watchers. He’s been collecting climate data for more than 30 years at his orchard on Bella Vista Road in Vernon. He checks the station at the same time every day to gather high and low temperatures, snowfall and precipitation levels — all of which are uploaded online, allowing anyone to look up the weather on a given day over the past 30 years.
Located just up the hill from his home, facing precisely due north, the Stevenson Screen is part of a daily routine Davison rarely strays from.
“The donkey hears the screen door and starts hollering, so he’s first,” Davison says with a chuckle.
He was approached by ‘the boys’ at Environment Canada more than 30 years ago about having a monitoring station installed on his property.
“I’d been here a long time, even then,” Davison says. “And I thought, that’s a good idea. The weather is our biggest factor, so I’m all for keeping a note of it.”
His job is to record the information and send it in to the government once a month. He gets a plaque every five years or so for his service.
He’s glad to have the data, as it helps guide farming practices at the orchard.
“Growing fruit, the temperature is critical to us. Most people go to bed, get up, and don’t even give a thought to what’s happening with it,” he says.
The monitoring device he uses — the Stevenson Screen — is used around the world to gather basic climate data. They are painted white to reflect the sun and are designed to allow air to circulate freely. There are several other Stevenson Screens in the Vernon area, including one at the Coldstream Ranch.
“Up and down this valley, the different locations give a lay of the land,” Davison says.
He’s often quizzed by family about the last time it was this cold, that hot, or when we had this much snow. And while he’s an encyclopedia of historical data, he’s not making any weather predictions. As a farmer, he might wish he could control the weather, but admits, “I can only record it afterwards.”
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