Meet the amateur weatherman capturing North Yorkshire's wildest weather extremes from Amanda Owen's farm to Tan Hill

Lonely frost pockets and windy high hills dot North Yorkshire’s remote valleys with rare micro-climates that might be missed but for one man’s mission to capture the county’s extremes.

Amateur meteorologist Andy Vis, with myriad tiny instruments, has crowdfunded weather stations across the area’s most inhospitable spaces, with his latest acquisition now taking him to 30.

From Greenhow Hill to Blakey Edge and Amanda Owen’s farm at Ravenseat, these miniature weather gauges paint a picture of bleak, cold winters more bitter than official findings suggest.

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And while they can never document new records, they can chart a unique take on the peaks - and troughs - of the wildest weather extremes.

Amateur weatherman Andrew Vis runs 30 weather stations in North Yorkshire's remotest places to capture the county's most extreme weather. Image: James Hardisty

“I love it,” said Mr Vis, an HGV driver by day whose job takes him across the breadth of the North York Moors in all climates, through snow and storms.

“It’s ideal for me, to be in the weather in all elements. It’s just a crazy hobby, that’s got out of control.

"But while this is just data for here and now, it’s also climate data. We will be able to see how it’s changing, and I can do this for another 30 or 40 years.”

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Amateur weatherman Andrew Vis runs 30 weather stations in North Yorkshire's remotest places to capture the county's most extreme weather. Image: James Hardisty

Storm chasing

Mr Vis, 31, is a driver who delivers feed to farms across the North York Moors, but his not-so-secret passion has always been in amateur meteorology.

As a teenager, it started with storm chasing. Fascinated by snow and cold weather in the winter, then following the thunder in summer months using radar on his mobile phone.

The now infamously bitter winter of 2009 ‘cemented’ his fascination, he said, and by the time he was in his early 20s he had started charting windspeeds and rain gauges.

Andy Vis with Amanda Owen at the weather station in Ravenseat

Now there is a vast array of tools, thermometers, anemometers, rain gauges, and those that measure UV rays and solar radiation. He could never train as a meteorologist though.

“That might take the fun out of it for me,” he said. “I just thought someone ought to capture it, it turns out it’s me.

"It started with a station in my back garden, it’s now turned into 30 across North Yorkshire. I think it’s enough for the moment.”

Weather stations

One of the weather stations in remote North Yorkshire

The first weather station was at Thixendale, known as the “sunken village” of the Yorkshire wolds, with its rare cold dips. Then the desolate Lion Pub at Blakey Edge. Now there are more; Greenhow Hill, Chop Gate.

Tan Hill, home to Britain’s highest pub and known for its isolation, hosts one of Mr Vis’s newest stations. Amanda Owen’s Ravenseat, of Our Yorkshire Farm fame, is most interesting.

“It’s quite something. We often talk about frost hollows in valley bottoms, but Amanda’s farm is at the same height as the Lion Pub at Blakey Edge,” said Mr Vis.

“She’s recorded a frost every single month of the year. The rainfall is unbelievable.”

Climate data

Mr Vis, publishing data on website wunderground.com and over [email protected], has built up a network with fellow weather enthusiasts and between them, little escapes unnoticed.

Amateur weatherman Andrew Vis runs 30 weather stations in North Yorkshire's remotest places to capture the county's most extreme weather. Image: James Hardisty

Flooding at Arkengarthdale in the summer of 2019 was captured in such circumstances, with one man recording five inches of rainfall in Booze over an hour-and-a-half. Keld, Muker, Swaledale, one February, saw 500ml fall in the space of just one month - a sum more often seen over a year.

“There is so much extreme weather, especially across North Yorkshire,” he said. “We've got such a varied landscape, from the coast across to the Yorkshire Dales.

"The weather can be so different, this is about just how varied it can be. I absolutely love it.

"Now I've got the stations set up I can start recording for the future. What started as a hobby, in 20 or 30 years, will give us some really good data. It's exciting to see."

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