Locating Climate & Weather Data and Information
Basic weather station data for cities in the United States
It is generally easy to obtain historic temperature, rainfall and snowfall information for specific locations in the US. In addition to these basic variables, it is sometimes possible to obtain other weather information including humidity and winds. Some stations have hourly data available though most have daily and monthly only. The places to check are:
- The National Climate Data Center(NCDC):
- They are the major repository for climate data in the US. They have "Climate Data Online" web-tools. You can also access datasets directly from their land-based datasets page.
- NOAA Regional Climate Centers:
- There are six regional climate centers in the US. Each provides climate information that is relevant to that particular part of the country. They are more likely to have esoteric information not available at NCDC
- State Climatologists:
- Almost all states in the US have a state climatologist. They will have access to local climate records, especially those related to weather events. Some states even have webpages where you can obtain information and data.
- National Weather Service
- They have links to the webpages of many of their local offices. These vary widely in what they provide and are worth checking out.
These are harder to obtain and some countries don't even give out their data for free. NCDC maintains data files for daily and monthly station data. Global extremes can be found here. Canadian climate data is available from the CMC. There are also available global gridded datasets (computer model and/or observation) which have values most regions. A good starting point for this data is the NOAA server data search page.Climatologies
All of the sources above have some climatology
information. In addition, try the US Climate
Page from PSD, and the Weatherbase and Worldclimate
US state average temperature and precipitation climatologies are also available.
US Historic surface analyses can now be obtained from the NOAA Library US Weather Map Project webpage. It can also be obtained either on CD-ROM from NCDC on their NOAA Chart Series A/B/C or from the High Plains Climate Center Daily Weather map page for 2002 onward.Other types of climate related information
- Climate Indices (time series):A comprehensive list of time series of various atmospheric and ocean climate time series is available. Other sources include the Climate Prediction Center and NCAR's CGD Division. Examples of what time series are available include teleconnection indices (e.g. the PNA), atmospheric time series (SOI, QBO), ocean time series (Nino 3.4) and other miscellaneous time series such as Atlantic hurricane numbers.
- Snow: The Snow and Ice Data Center and for the western US, the SNOTEL data.
- Water Resources: The USGS Water Resources Page.
- Humidity and Moisture: Some of the stations at NCDC have relative humidity data (daily, monthly). They have also have monthly information for various cities in a table format.
- Severe storms (hail, tornados, lightning): The National Climate Data Center has some severe weather data online in their storm database though currently it starts just in 2006. You can look through their severe weather data inventory (weather instrument data). Some libraries have the old monthly "Storm Data" publication which starts back in the 1800's.
- Hurricanes: The National Hurricane Prediction Center has information on past and current storms.
- Wind: This is harder to get. The National Climate Data Center has wind data for some stations. In addition, they sometimes list severe wind events in their report on severe and unusual weather. The NRCS has wind roses available for select cities throughout the US that show typical wind directions and speed by month. Additional sources might be a local NWS office, local airports and local newspapers.
- Crop Information:. Check the weekly weather and crop bulletin (includes last/first freeze dates).
- Sun and Moon: Times of sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset, phases of the moon and other astronomical data are available from the US Naval Observatory data services page.. Phases of the moon are at the Hawaiian Observatory.
Short-term weather forecasts are available through the National Weather Service. Long-term climate forecasts are also available including forecasts of temperature, precipitation and other variables for time periods of one or more months in the future. A list of El Niño forecasts is available from the PMEL El Niño theme page.El Niño Education
A list of sites with educational tools and information for a wide range of levels is available.Interactive websites
There are many sites available that allow users to plot and analyze climate data.If you still can't find it...
One of the best sources of climate data and information is the meteorological FAQ. It has an extensive listing of weather and climate resources including links to research data. There are also other collections of sites including but not limited to university and government sites, links to data sets at the NOAA Data Server data search page, and the Yahoo Weather Links.
Non-web sources include local universities, libraries, airports, newspapers, TV and radio stations. Books, almanacs and magazines can be particularly useful. Some specific books include:
- The Weather Book: An Easy-to-Understand Guide to the USA's Weather, Jack Williams 1997.
- National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Weather
- The rough guide to Weather. Bob Henson. 2002
- Climate of the States. 2 volume. Gale Research, Michigan, 1980.
- Weather America, Alfred N Garwood Ed, Toucan Valley Pubs, 1996.
- Weather Almanac 2000 Grey House Publishing, NY 2000.
- Selected climate maps of the US. 1977, Dept of Commerce pub.
- Encyclopedia of Atmospheric Sciences, vol 1-6, Holton et al, Academic Press, 2002.
If you know of any good source of climate data not included in this page, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!