Weather America, 2001: A Thirty-Year Summary of Statistical Data and Weather Trends

Weather America, 2001: A Thirty-Year Summary of Statistical Data and Weather Trends

by David Garoogian



Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781891482298
Publisher: Grey House Publishing
Publication date: 01/28/2004
Edition description: Subsequent
Pages: 2013
Product dimensions: 8.95(w) x 11.20(h) x 2.79(d)

Table of Contents

Authors Note
Section 1: Weather Rankings
Section 2: Major Storm Events
Section 3: State Chapters
Section 4: Appendices


Weather America, now in its second edition, is a reference source that organizes, analyzes and ranks key U.S. weather data for the last 30 years. Unique among dozens of weather data publications, Grey House Publishing's WeatherAmerica, formally published by Toucan Valley Publications, provides the most comprehensive and useful compilation of weather data and statistics available.

Almost all weather data originates from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and more specifically within NOAA, the National Climatic Data Center, (NCDC) in Asheville, NC. NCDC organizes over 10,000 weather stations across the country, and, on a regular basis, collects, compiles, edits, and adjusts climatological data, and then publishes it in a number of regular serial publications.

Because our editors worked directly from the government's raw data files, we were able to create a reference that stands out from other weather books in several significant ways:

  • Coverage: Weather America includes data for nearly 4,000 weather stations, thousands more than the several hundred places covered by most other books.
  • Detail: Weather America computes more data elements for more places than any other source, including the Federal government; see Section Three below for more specifics.
  • Currency: Weather America uses the most recent data available. Traditionally 30 years of weather data is collected and presented every 10 years (e.g. 1951-1980, 1961-1990, etc.). Because more recent data exists, this edition is based on data from 1970-1999, the most recent thirty year period for which complete year data is available.
  • Organization: Not only are the tables concise and easy to use, unlike many Federal publications, but WeatherAmerica presents all the data in a meaningful context:

Section One: Weather Rankings

Now easily accessed in the front of the book, these National and State tables include detailed temperature, precipitation and snowfall data.

Section Two: Major Storm Events

New to this edition, this 44-page section summarizes major storms by both various storm criteria (type, fatalities, injuries, damage amounts), and by state. It offers information on over 2,000 storms from 1995-1999.

Section Three: State Chapters

Organized alphabetically by state, each chapter contains detailed tables on both National Weather Service (NWS) and Cooperative weather stations. NWS stations contain 30 climatological data elements, 17 more than last edition. Cooperative stations contain 16 data elements, 3 more than last edition. Preceding the weather station data is a narrative of the state's climatological conditions, listings of weather stations by county, city (new to this edition) and elevation. Readers will find a new, detailed map of each state that includes station names, counties, and cities.

This edition's format separates data from National Weather Service stations (those operated by professional meteorologists), and data from Cooperative weather stations, which are primarily manned by volunteers. Not only are there more data elements charted - extreme temperatures, thunderstorm days, foggy days, sky cover, humidity, dew points, and wind speeds - but each National Weather Service station table is preceded by a narrative that details specific geographical and topographical information - important to that station's reading.

Section Four: Appendices

New to this edition are the following four appendices:

Appendix A includes national, regional and state climate centers that include complete contact information with web sites and contact names. Appendix B provides period of record information for National Weather Service stations. Appendix C is a map that shows the location of NEXRAD's 153 Doppler Radar Stations in the United States. Appendix D contains an explanation of the data found in the weather station tables.

Weather America's innovations and supplemental resources combine to create a source of choice for researchers looking for basic climatic data for places across the United States.

Inclusion Criteria - How the Data and Stations Were Selected

There were two central goals in the preparation of Weather America. The first was to select those data elements which would have the broadest possible use by the greatest range of potential users. For most of the National Weather Service stations there is a substantial quantity and variety of climatological data that is collected, however for the majority of stations the data is more limited. After evaluating the available data set, the editors chose nine temperature measures, five precipitation measures, and heating and cooling degree days - sixteen key data elements that are widely requested and are believed to be of the greatest general interest.

The second goal was to provide data for as many weather stations as possible. Although there are over 10,000 stations, not every station collects data for both precipitation and temperature, and even among those that do, the data is not always complete for the last thirty years. As the editors used a different methodology than that of NCDC to compute data, a formal data sufficiency criteria was devised and applied to the source tapes in order to select stations for inclusion. See Appendix D for explanation of data.


The main body of Weather America is composed of 50 state sections (weather information for the District of Columbia is interfiled by station name in the Maryland and Virginia sections). Each section starts off with a narrative description of the climatic conditions of the state.

Following the state narrative is a state map with the location of weather stations, counties, and major cities clearly marked.

This is followed by three indexes to the data tables. The first index is by the name of the county (or county equivalent) in which the station is located. The second index lists the major cities and the distance, in miles, to all weather stations within a 20-mile radius. The third index is by station elevation.

The indexes are followed by tables for each National Weather Service station along with a brief climactic narrative. Tables covering each Cooperative Station complete the chapter.

Sources of the Data

The data in Weather America is compiled from several sources. The majority comes from the original National Climactic Data Center computer tapes (TD-3220 Summary of Month Co-Operative). This data was used to create the entire table for each Cooperative station and part of each National Weather Service station. The remainder of the data for each NWS station comes from the International Station Meteorological Climate Summary, Version 4.0, September 1996, which is also available from the NCDC.

The storm events come from the NCDC Storm Events Database which is accessible over the Internet at

NCDC has two main classes or types of weather stations; first order stations which are staffed by professional meteorologists (there are approximately 300 such stations) and cooperative stations which are staffed by volunteers. In Weather America all first order stations operated by the National Weather Service are included, as well as every cooperative station that met our selection criteria.


Weather America is based on an arithmetic average of all available data for a specific data element at a given station. For example, the average maximum daily high temperature during July for Alma, Michigan, was abstracted from NCDC source tapes for the thirty Julys, starting in July, 1970 and ending in July, 1999. These thirty figures were then summed and divided by thirty to produce an arithmetic average. As might be expected, there were not thirty values for every data element on every table. For a variety of reasons, NCDC data is sometimes incomplete. See Appendix D for explanation of data.

First, as with any statistical reference work of this type, users need to be aware of the source of the data. The information here comes from NOAA, and it is the most comprehensive and reliable core data available. Although it is the best, it is not perfect. Most weather stations are staffed by volunteers, times of observation sometimes vary, stations occasionally are moved (especially over a thirty year period), equipment is changed or upgraded, and all of these factors affect the uniformity of the data. Weather America does not attempt to correct for these factors, and is not intended for either climatologists or atmospheric scientists. Users with concerns about data collection and reporting protocols are both referred to NCDC technical documentation, and also, they are perhaps better served by using the original computer tapes themselves as well.

Second, users need to be aware of the methodology here which is described above and in Appendix D. Although this methodology has produced fully satisfactory results, it is not directly compatible with other methodologies, hence variances in the results published here and those which appear in other publications will doubtlessly arise.

Third, is the trap of that informal logical fallacy known as "hasty generalization," and its corollaries. This may involve presuming the future will be like the past (specifically, next year will be an average year), or it may involve misunderstanding the limitations of an arithmetic average, but more interestingly, it may involve those mistakes made most innocently by generalizing informally on too broad a basis. As weather is highly localized, the data should be taken in that context. A weather station collects data about climatic conditions at that spot, and that spot may or may not be an effective paradigm for an entire town or area. For example, the weather station in Burlington, Vermont is located at the airport about 3 miles east of the center of town. Most of Burlington is a lot closer to Lake Champlain, and that should mean to a careful user that there could be a significant difference between the temperature readings gathered at the weather station and readings that might be gathered at City Hall downtown. How much would this difference be? How could it be estimated? There are no answers here for these sorts of questions, but it is important for users of this book to raise them for themselves. (It is interesting to note that similar situations abound across the country. For example, compare different readings for the multiple stations in San Francisco, CA or for those around New York City.)

Our source of data has been consistent, so has our methodology. The data has been computed and reported consistently as well. As a result, the Weather America should prove valuable to the careful and informed reader.

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