What’s wrong with Tórshavn?

There’s a problem with the anemometer at Tórshavn (WMO #06011). The problem has existed for many years and as far as I know its not intermittent. The wind direction and speed can be, and often are, spurious as they have been today. I wrote a blog mentioning it a number of years ago, but deleted it in a clear out, so this is my reaffirmation if you like that a problem exists. Not many people will realise that there is a problem, maybe just the guys who analyse the charts down at Exeter. It’s not the end of the world of course, but it’s a bit of a pain now that I live in the north of Scotland and an accurate and reliable observation from there halfway to Iceland is always handy to see. The odd thing is that the METAR observations from the airfield at Vágar (ICAO EKVG) are as you would expect for an airfield – always spot on. As an example compare the last 12 hours observations from the METAR from Vágar and the SYNOP from Tórshavn for today.

As you can see in the above observations Tórshavn has been reporting a light SW’ly wind all morning despite the passage of an active cold front. Meanwhile at Vágar the wind has been blowing 25 to 30 knots with gusts to 42 knots, the direction veering from the west onto the northwest at 07 UTC. Here’s a map of the Faroe Islands and the location of the airport at Vágar with respect to the Islands capital Tórshavn.

Courtesy Google Maps

I suppose It could well be that there is absolutely nothing wrong with anemometer at Tórshavn of course, and it’s just very well sheltered from any winds from the southwest through northwest. Having flown over the town in Google Earth, that idea doesn’t really hold water, the town is fairly open, and it has to be the anemometer. I have searched for the exact location of the AWS using Google Street View where you might think you would also find the islands meteorological office without much luck, even though I supposedly have the exact lat and lon coordinates of the site. But the big question is why have they Faroese put up with these dodgy wind readings for so long? If you know what the answer please drop me a line.

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