Locating Climate/Weather Data and Information
Basic U.S. Weather Station Data
It is generally easy to obtain historic temperature, rainfall and snowfall information for specific locations in the U.S. 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:
- NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI): They are the major repository for climate data in the U.S. They have quick links to datasets and 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 U.S. 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 NCEI.
- State Climatologists: Almost all states in the U.S. 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.
- NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS): They have links to the web pages of many of their local offices. These vary widely in what they provide and are worth checking out.
Global Station Data
These are harder to obtain and some countries don't even give out their data for free. NCEI maintains data files for daily and monthly station data. Global extremes can be found here at NCEI and at Arizona State. Canadian climate data is available from the CMC. There are also available global gridded datasets (computer model and/or observation) which have values for most regions.
All of the sources above have some climatology information. In addition, try the U.S. Climate Page from PSL, and the Weatherbase and Worldclimate websites. U.S. state average temperature and precipitation climatologies are also available.
Surface Weather Maps
U.S. Historic surface analyses can now be obtained from the NOAA Library for 1871 to 2002 from the U.S. Daily Weather Maps webpage. It can also be obtained either on CD-ROM from NCEI on their NOAA Chart Series A/B/C. And they can be obtained from 2002 onwards from NOAA/Weather Prediction Center (WPC).
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 NOAA's 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 has many snow/ice related datasets and for the western U.S., there is the SNOTEL data.
- Water Resources: The USGS Water Resources Page has current and historic U.S. water related data.
- Humidity and Moisture: Some of the stations at NCEI have relative humidity data (daily, monthly). See their land data access webpage available starting here for various stations, zip-codes, states, etc. They have also have monthly information for various cities in a table format.
- Severe storms (hail, tornadoes, lightning): The National Centers for Environmental Information has some severe weather data online in their storm database starting from 1950. 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. NOAA's NSSL has a lot of severe storm information and links on their website.
- Hurricanes: The NOAA National Hurricane Center has information on past and current storms.
- Wind: The National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) has wind data for some stations. In addition, they have a searchable severe weather event database which includes winds. The NRCS has wind roses available for select cities throughout the U.S. 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 U.S. Naval Observatory data services page.
Short-term weather forecasts are available through the National Weather Service. Long-term climate forecasts are also available (from NOAA's CPC) 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. PSL has some experimental forecasts we make available related to our research.
PSL maintains an ENSO web page including background, current conditions, forecasts, related links, and more.
PSL has a list of sites with educational tools and information. A wide range of levels is available.
If you still can't find it...
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 AMS Weather Book: The Ultimate Guide to America's Weather by Jack Williams
- National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Weather
- Climate of the States. 2 volume. Gale Research, Michigan, 1980.
- Encyclopedia of Atmospheric Sciences, vol 1-6, Holton et al, Academic Press, 2002.
- Practical Meteorology: An Algebra-based Survey of Atmospheric Science Copyright © 2015, 2016 by Roland Stull (online).
- Meteorology Today: An Introduction to Weather, Climate, and the Environment.
Suggestions for Other Data Sources
If you know of any good sources of climate data not included in this page, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!