Evaluating Statewide Climate Extremes for the United States

Karsten A. Shein * NOAA/National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, North Carolina

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Dennis P. Todey South Dakota Office of Climatology, South Dakota State University, Brookings, South Dakota

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F. Adnan Akyuz North Dakota State University, Fargo, North Dakota

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James R. Angel Illinois Office of the State Climatologist, Illinois State Water Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois, Champaign, Illinois

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Timothy M. Kearns NOAA/NWS/Weather Forecast Office Aberdeen, Aberdeen, South Dakota

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James L. Zdrojewski ** NOAA/NWS/Climate Services Division, Silver Spring, Maryland

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Abstract

The NOAA National Climatic Data Center maintains tables for temperature and precipitation extremes in each of the U.S. states. Many of these tables were several years out of date, however, and therefore did not include a number of recent record-setting meteorological observations. Furthermore, there was no formal process for ensuring the currency of the tables or evaluating observations that might tie or break a statewide climate record. This paper describes the evaluation and revision of the statewide climate-extremes tables for all-time maximum and minimum temperature, greatest 24-h precipitation and snowfall, and greatest snow depth (the five basic climate elements observed on a daily basis by the NOAA Cooperative Weather Network). The process resulted in the revision of 40% of the values listed in those tables and underscored both the necessity of manual quality-assurance methods and the importance of continued climate-monitoring and data-rescue activities to ensure that potential record values are not overlooked.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Karsten A. Shein, NOAA/National Climatic Data Center, 151 Patton Ave., Asheville, NC 28801-5111. E-mail: karsten.shein@noaa.gov

Abstract

The NOAA National Climatic Data Center maintains tables for temperature and precipitation extremes in each of the U.S. states. Many of these tables were several years out of date, however, and therefore did not include a number of recent record-setting meteorological observations. Furthermore, there was no formal process for ensuring the currency of the tables or evaluating observations that might tie or break a statewide climate record. This paper describes the evaluation and revision of the statewide climate-extremes tables for all-time maximum and minimum temperature, greatest 24-h precipitation and snowfall, and greatest snow depth (the five basic climate elements observed on a daily basis by the NOAA Cooperative Weather Network). The process resulted in the revision of 40% of the values listed in those tables and underscored both the necessity of manual quality-assurance methods and the importance of continued climate-monitoring and data-rescue activities to ensure that potential record values are not overlooked.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Karsten A. Shein, NOAA/National Climatic Data Center, 151 Patton Ave., Asheville, NC 28801-5111. E-mail: karsten.shein@noaa.gov
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