LEGAL, INSURANCE, CERTIFICATION
What is "certified" data?
Most states require all records that are to be submitted
as evidence in a court of law to be authenticated in some way, typically
called certification. There are several types of certification available.
The MRCC can certify copies of climate records archived at the MRCC.
As an archiving facility, the only fact the MRCC can attest to is that
exact duplicates of climatic records on file at this center have been
provided to those that requested such data. The National
Climatic Data Center, the official United
States archive for climatic records,
can provide two types of certification. For more information on certification,
please check our Certification page.
What can you testify to in court (and where can you
Generally, it is not necessary for us to appear in
court to testify about the data we supply. The certification we provide
serves the purpose of authenticating data. If we are subpoenaed to
testify, we appear only as a Friend of the Court, and can testify
only that the data come from our archives. We cannot testify as to
the accuracy or appropriateness of the data and cannot appear as an
"expert witness". For more information see the NOAA document
"Weather Records in Private Litigation" (http://lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/documentlibrary/pdf/eis/C-1.pdf
). If expert testimony is needed, the services of a forensic meteorologist
should be retained. The American Meteorological Society [http://www.ametsoc.org/AMS/
] and the National Weather Association [www.nwas.org/] maintain
listings of consulting meteorologists.
An inspector said that I have had hail damage to the
roof of my home. I've lived in my house since 1995. Can you
tell me all of the dates that hail was reported in my area?
That depends. First of all, hail is typically a very
localized phenomenon. It may hail in one location, and a half mile away
no hail may be observed. Because it can occur in a relatively small
area, not all hail that falls is observed or reported. One of the criteria
for a severe thunderstorm is observed hail ¾ inch or more in diameter,
so if severe storms have occurred at your location there may be a record
of hail if it occurred. These reports include the size of the hail,
location where it occurred, and time it occurred.
For events less than three months old, check the preliminary
daily storm reports on the Storm Prediction Center web site [www.spc.noaa.gov].
For events greater than three months old, check the
on-line Storm Data [http://lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/severeweather/extremes.html]
database maintained by the National Climatic Data
The only source of hail data that the MRCC can provide
are copies of the pertinent storm event pages found in the publication
Storm Data. Storm Data is compiled and published by NCDC.
There is about a six-month lag in the publication of the monthly Storm
Data publications. The minimum cost for receiving copies of Storm
Data pages is $22.00. Certified copies of Storm Data must be requested
through NCDC. If you have questions or need assistance in acquiring
storm information, please contact our Service Climatologists.
Lightning struck my house and damaged my TV and personal
computer. The insurance company said that I need to provide documentation
in order to process the claim. Do you have such information?
No, the only source for lightning data is Global Atmospherics,
Inc. [www.globalatmospherics.com] . They operate the National Lightning
Detection Network, and provide custom reports on lightning strikes,
and can locate strikes usually to within 500 meters. The MRCC may be
able to tell you whether or not a thunderstorm was reported in your
area, depending on the availability nearby reporting stations.
I had wind damage to my roof during a recent thunderstorm,
and the insurance company needs documentation of the wind speed before
it will process the claim. Can you tell me what the wind gusts were during
Wind speed can vary greatly over short distances,
and is affected by such things as trees, buildings, and other obstacles.
Most wind speed and direction data is obtained from airport observations
sites. Usually these have an unobstructed exposure to the wind and
may not accurately represent the wind conditions at, for example, an
urban location. If an airport observing station is located near your
home, this data may be available and be sufficient evidence. How applicable
this data may be to your location depends on your proximity to the
observation site. If there is no wind observation site nearby, we would
have to rely on the Local Storm Reports gathered by the National Weather
Service or the Storm Data publication published by NCDC. Local Storm
Reports are listings of storm-related tornado, hail, and wind gust/wind
damage events. Wind speeds reported are often estimates and usually
not at "official" observing sites. However, these reports may
provide evidence that a severe storm occurred in your area.
HOW TO OBTAIN DATA
How do I request data from the MRCC?
There are a number of ways to request data from us.
You may call us at (217) 244-8226. Our office hours are from 8:00
- 5:00 (Central Time) Monday through Friday. However, we have
a voice mail system that is available 24-hours a day. You may
also fax us at (217) 244-0220, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
No matter how you contact us, please leave us your
name, telephone number (with area code), and details concerning your
data request such as the date, city and state, and the weather data
you are interested in (hourly, daily, monthly, temperatures, precipitation,
wind speed, etc.).
I need climate data on a monthly basis but I don't
want to have to call and order it each month. Is there way to obtain
data on a regular basis?
Yes. The Midwestern Applied Climate System (MACS)
is a subscription-based service that gives users access to a large variety
and quantity of climate data. If your regular data needs can be met
by a MACS subscription, this may be the most cost-effective way to
obtain your data. Contact one of our Service Climatologists to discuss
your needs. If you have data needs that cannot be met by a subscription
to MACS, our Service Climatologists will work with you to determine
the best means to provide you the data you require.
I want the daily rainfall for a location. Can I just
call the observer and get the data?
The observers in the U.S. Cooperative Network are
volunteers. We do not provide the names, addresses, or phone numbers
of observers. Many observers report their observations each day (near
real-time), and this data is available from the MRCC or from the National
Weather Service. However, near real-time data has only minimal quality
control. Other observers send their information to the local National
Weather Service office once each month. All data is sent to the National
Climatic Data Center where it is quality controlled.
TYPES OF DATA AVAILABLE
What is the difference between hourly data, daily
data, and monthly data?
Hourly data are the values observed each hour, usually
at airport stations. Hourly values typically include temperature, dew
point temperature, wet-bulb temperature, relative humidity, barometric
pressure, and wind speed and direction. Daily data refers to values
that represent the character of the weather for a particular day. These
usually include maximum temperature, minimum temperature, mean temperature,
and total precipitation, but may include other values, such as snowfall.
Monthly data refer to values the represent the character of the climate
for a specific month and are typically averages or sums. Monthly data
may include average maximum and minimum temperatures, average mean temperature,
total precipitation, and total snowfall. Daily and monthly values are
available for most airport stations as well as cooperative observer
Do you provide sunrise and sunset data? Do you
also provide information on the phases of the moon?
No, the U.S. Naval Observatory [http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data]
is the official source for these data. They provide this information
for free on their web site.
I'm traveling to Minneapolis next week and would
like to know what the weather is going to be like. Can you help
me with this?
No, the MRCC does not provide weather forecasts, just
historical data. Weather forecasts are the responsibility of the
National Weather Service [www.nws.noaa.gov]. NWS forecasts and
other information can information can be found on the Interactive Weather
Information Network [http://iwin.nws.noaa.gov/iwin/graphicsversion/rbigmain.html]
I'm an attorney who has a trial coming up next month.
We need to know what the official National Weather Service forecast was
for the date of interest, not just the actual weather. Do you provide
documentation of past weather forecasts?
No, the MRCC does not have this information available
in their archives. Archives of past forecasts are only available
from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) [www.ncdc.noaa.gov].
They also have past severe weather watches, warnings and advisories
available in their archives as well.
ABOUT THE DATA
What does the "T" mean in the precipitation column
of the data listing?
The "T" stands for "trace." A trace
of precipitation is precipitation that was observed but accumulates
to less than .01 inch.
The observe time column in the daily data listing
shows MID, AM, or PM. What do these mean?
Most cooperative stations take observations in the
early morning or in the late afternoon. These abbreviations indicate
at what time the observations are taken. MID stands for midnight, and
indicates that the data listed represents the 24 hour period ending
at midnight. AM indicates a morning observation, usually 7:00 a.m.,
but sometimes 8:00 a.m. PM indicates an afternoon observation, usually
4:00 p.m. The data represent the 24 hour period ending at the observation
time. This does present some problems when comparing data between two
stations with different reporting times, and users need to be aware
of these differences. For example, a maximum temperature occurring around
2:00 p.m. will be reported on that same day by the afternoon observer,
but on the next day by the morning observer.
Why do you charge for the data?
We do not charge for the data. Fees are assessed
to cover costs of information delivery, including processing, reproduction,
and the computer systems necessary to maintain and process the data.
For more information on our fees, please see our Climate Data Services/Pricing
Policies page on this web site.
What can I get for free?
The MRCC provides generalized climate information
at no charge on our web site. The Midwest Climate watch provides temperature
and precipitation maps of the Midwest for the
current month. These are updated automatically each day. In addition,
narrative descriptions of the past week's weather are included. Historical
climate summaries are also available for more than 750 Midwestern
locations. These summaries include tables and graphs of temperature,
precipitation, snowfall, and degree days. There is also an abundance
of weather and climate information available on the web. Check our
Weather Resources/Links page for access to other interesting weather
and climate sites.