“We are all certifiably insane. All of us who let this game of hockey wash over us for most of the cold winter months. But for some of us that's not enough. We have to take the insanity one step further. We build a backyard rink. “- John Buccigross of ESPN
When most people think about winter, they don’t think about fun times. However, there is a collection of people who embrace it and do the unthinkable, they build ice skating rinks in their backyards, and I am one of those people. I am sure my friends and neighbors think I am crazy for trying to build a rink in New Jersey, but it just proves anything can be possible if you put your mind to it.
Back in 2014, I started my backyard ice rink journey with some plywood, a hope, and a prayer. Six years later, it has become something that my kids eagerly look forward to once fall is upon us. Usually, right around Thanksgiving is when we start putting the rink back up in the yard. This process from start to finish usually takes us an afternoon to get our boards and the lights back up. That’s right, we take our backyard rink seriously, lights and all. Once everything is reconstructed, then the waiting game begins, sometimes impatiently. We begin to watch the backyard weather station more closely, looking for a cold snap with a prolonged period of cold so we can drop our liner, start filling and then hopefully start making ice.
A few years back, I had bought one of the AcuRite 3-in-1 weather stations. It allowed me to watch temperatures more locally, and it worked well for many years. The one thing it lacked for my needs was being able to see the historical data on My AcuRite. Recently, I was looking to see if there was a more modern unit that would record data so I can get a better understanding of the temperature fluctuations. I had found that the AcuRite Atlas™, along with the HD display and the Access would allow me to not only view this historical data but view it remotely and contribute to Weather Underground.
The Atlas is no joke. It is a comprehensive wireless weather station. It measures temperature, humidity, wind speed, wind direction, rainfall, UV index, and light intensity. I also was able to get a lightning detector module for the Atlas. It can detect lightning strikes within 25 miles, as well as tracking total strikes and even estimates the distance of the most recent strike. This will definitely come in handy for when we are out in the yard.
When we make ice for the rink, we are looking for weather conditions that are as cold as possible and for as long as possible. We find that once we can get the ice frozen all the way through, it lasts longer through the temperature swings of winter. That’s when we start to watch the temperatures even more closely. Being able to see this data from my new weather station is going to help me understand what’s happening in my own backyard. The overnight period is usually one of the best times for ice building between deeper temperatures and resurfacing the ice. Now we can better track that period of time and get an idea of ice growth during that time.
Along my backyard ice rink journey, I had been trying to find as much information as possible before and after I started building it. I had found a few sites and groups online, but I was still trying to find more information, but ultimately felt a lack of a true community. With some friends I made through the sites and groups, we started a Facebook group in 2017 called Backyard Ice Rinks. Since then, the group has grown to over 10,000 members in just over two years, with members from all over North America and Europe. So, if you are like me, and are intrigued about backyard rink building and want to see some amazing ingenuity come join us, you won’t be disappointed in what our community has to offer!