May 16, 2012

Observing Weather Is Fun & Worthwhile!

Lately I've been drawn into the NCDC - Image and Publications System, specifically the COOP Data / Record of Climatological Observations Form in hopes to find numbers to back up photos of certain weather phenomena. What I've learned; Historically, Oshkosh weather observers have recorded daily observations with diligence and enthusiasm. That pleases me.

(February 22, 1922 - Menominee Park, Oshkosh, WI)

Photo courtesy of the Oshkosh Public Museum View of the sleet storm of 1922, showing fallen trees in Menominee Park. The statue of Chief Oshkosh is at center and covered with ice. On February 22, 1922, a freak winter thunderstorm turned into a devastating sleet storm that paralyzed the city and surrounding communities for several days. In Oshkosh the damage started early in the morning when the weight of the ice started bringing down trees by the hundreds, breaking electrical, telephone and telegraph lines as well as the electric streetcars that left passengers stranded to walk their way home over ice covered walks and streets. Later in the evening the wind and snow started and the trees and power poles took a second beating. It took several days to restore any kind of normal convenience to the city. One lucky man driving a delivery truck for the Davis Bread Company, had a tree fall onto the hood of his truck while driving down Irving St., he was not hurt, but the truck was destroyed. Many homes were damaged from falling branches. According to the Oshkosh Northwestern, every large tree in the city received some kind of damage.

More Menominee Park historic photos via the Oshkosh Northwestern : http://oshko.sh/JIq6Ad

The photo above depicts a very snowy/sleety/icy scene on February 22, 1922. The monthly weather observation, below, shows the observer diligently noted in the sleet section that a Big Storm occurred on the 22nd and that it melted by observation time in the daily observation row. While snow depth observations seem to be severely lacking a closer look at the form reveals that the expectation for a snowdepth recording was only twice a month, once on the 15th and again at the end of the month. The observer didn't miss a snowfall the entire month. The observer also noted thunderstorms, prevailing winds, precipitation type, and during what portion of the day the precipitation occurred. Great stuff.


I imagine the task of entering all the archived months into a database, once the digital age hit, was shear awesomeness. I am thankful for each observation and appreciate the effort. These numbers have provided many generations the valuable tools to help measure our climate.