by Dennis Dalman
“Bill the East Sartell Weatherman” has his own weather station in his backyard that reports round-the-clock minute-to-minute updates for his website watchers.
Bill Turgeon, 77, is quick to note, modestly, that he is not a meteorologist – just a weather hobbyist. But “pro” or not, his knowledge of weather is deep and vast, informed by many years as a passionate observer of Minnesota’s fickle weather extremes.
Turgeon, who lives in east Sartell, dubbed his website Sartell East Weather (www.sartelleastweather.com). That’s his way of emphasizing the up-to-the-second weather information is precisely specific to east Sartell and the immediate Sartell area. The weather station, which hangs on a pole by his patio, is a WS-2000 device. The wireless, all-in-one integrated sensor array measures temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind speed and direction, and ultraviolet and solar radiation. The data is instantly relayed to Turgeon’s receiver in his house where there are two displays for data, as well as a wi-fi setup. He sends data instantly to about a half dozen weather services, including the Weather Underground, owned by The Weather Channel.
For example, on Sunday, Aug. 2, the temperature in east Sartell was 69.6 degrees and felt like 69.0 degrees, with a dew point at 54.2, a drop of 0.2 degrees from the day before. That was at 1:04 p.m. Just one minute later the temperature increased to 70.5 degrees. Another minute later the temperature was 70.7 degrees.
During that same time period (shortly after 1 p.m.) the humidity hovered at 57 percent, air pressure was at 30.7 and winds clocked in at 2.5 mph.
Along with instant weather reports, the website contains a wealth of information – bar chart of just about every aspect of weather patterns, forecasts, precipitation, severe-weather advisories and warnings, wind/lightning, national-weather maps, graphs, drought conditions and daily precipitation amounts as recorded at St. Cloud Regional Airport. Much of the information and data are from links to other weather services, such as long-term forecasts from the National Weather Service in Chanhassen.
It is a site many would find interesting to ponder because it presents so many inter-related aspects of weather phenomenon.
Turgeon said he “stumbled into” his weather hobby years ago when he noticed in a magazine an ad for indoor thermometers. His curiosity was piqued and so he went online and discovered there are at-home weather stations one can purchase. He bought one and set it up on his hobby farm near Hackensack and then he joined an online forum for weather enthusiasts called WX Forum.
Turgeon and his wife, Kathy, moved to Sartell from Hackensack in November of last year. It was a very heart-wrenching move.
“It was so hard to leave that place,” he said.
“That place” was their hobby farm they called “Hiram Hill Homestead,” so-named because it is located in Hiram Township. It is a beloved 40-acre spread of land that was their home for 22 years. He and Kathy worked mightily to develop the property, building a chicken coop, a barn and other amenities.
“It was a wonderful place to live,” he said. “We had chickens, a couple pigs and we chopped our own wood. It was one of those ‘back to the land’ kind of things.”
He even wrote a book about their love affair with their new home, a book titled “Hiram Hill Homestead.”
Born in Crookston, Turgeon grew up on a farm near Oklee in Red Lake County.
The Turgeons moved to Hackensack after he quit his job as a public relations director for Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall. Long before that, he had earned a journalism degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, the nation’s oldest and highly regarded journalism school. Turgeon wrote for a number of papers, including the multiple-award-winning Rochester (Minnesota) Post Bulletin for which he edited copy and wrote feature stories. He was drafted in the mid-1960s, joined the U.S. Air Force and served four years, his last year in the Vietnam War as aircraft refueler at an air base.
Kathy Turgeon, originally from Great Bend, Kansas, had been for many years an elementary school teacher.
After Turgeon quit his job at the university, he and Kathy were both ready for a change, something totally new and different. That hankering caused them to purchase the land near Hackensack. And they never looked back.
Hard as it was to leave Hiram Hill Homestead, they just had to because it was becoming so difficult, such hard work to maintain as they both grew older.
The Turgeons both very much enjoy living in Sartell. They used to look forward to attending the weekly Coffee and Conversation programs featuring interesting guest speakers at the Sartell Community Center. But those had to cease due to the virus pandemic. The Turgeons are looking forward to when those programs begin again.
Despite the ongoing pandemic, the couple is content to stay at home with their loving dog, Maya, a black Lab/border collie cross that was rescued from Texas after Hurricane Harvey devastated parts of that state.
“This weather hobby is the perfect hobby for the Covid crisis since it keeps me home,” he said.
Another longtime hobby is his postage stamp collecting.
With the soul of a poet, Turgeon can wax rhapsodic about various weathers: “At Hiram Hill Homestead, there were very beautiful early mornings in winter when it was still dark under the stars, and I would walk out of the house many mornings when it was very cold but not windy. It was a perfect silence except sometimes for the sound of poplar trees making cracking sounds.”
Of the four seasons, he and Kathy both like autumn best, but they also enjoy summer days – the non-humid summer days, he was quick to add.
The Turgeons have two grown children – a son in Durango, Colorado, and a daughter in Boise, Idaho.
Turgeon is seeking a school in Sartell or the immediate area that might be interested in having his other weather station, the one he used at Hiram Hill Homestead. It is now stored in his garage, and he wants to donate it to a school that could use it for educational purposes.
If interested, call Turgeon at 320-217-2609.