Weather Info for All Seasons

Whether for temperatures or severe storms, use these resources to track whatever weather comes your way.


storm 

Photo by Adobe Stock/MDesigner125

Over the past five years, I’ve written many articles for Grit about weather, from life-threatening storms to weather folklore. This time, I want to tell you where to get weather information and how to use it. All the sources I’ve cited are from the United States and Canadian governments’ official purveyors of such data, and all the information is free.

You can break down weather data into two groups: climate and weather. Climate deals with long-term weather conditions over a period of years. Weather refers to the current and future weather conditions, out to maybe a year at most. 

Climate



Looking at the past climate, we can tell what the basic weather parameters have been. We can compute averages, highlight extremes, and determine trends of factors such as temperature and rainfall. Climate gives us an idea of what the weather has been like at a particular location and what that location’s weather could be like in the future, assuming no major climate changes. This type of information is useful for planning purposes. For example, if you want to grow things outside, you can use climate information to pick the right plants that grow and prosper in your particular climate.

The National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) has a wealth of climate information. You can get daily, monthly, and annual data for temperature and precipitation for the country, individual states, and even specific cities. This includes averages and recorded extremes. Although calculated at the NCEI, this information is often distributed locally by regional climate centers or by state climatologists. Similarly, in Canada, the Canadian Centre for Climate Services has produced useful data, most of which is available locally through the departments or ministries of agriculture in the various provinces.





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