Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Tutorial: Using NOAA’s U.S. Climate Data Mapping Tool

by Matt Rosenberg June 17th, 2013

Federal data for 2012 show Washingtonians can feel confident crowing about how cool and moist is their climate, even if some other parts of the country experienced record or very high heat and record or very low rainfall. 2012 temperatures and precipitation are depicted in a series of maps from the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration covering the country, regions, states and climate sub-divisions within states. The tool allows views of data back to 2002.

At the data center’s main page users can select the time span and types of maps they want. To get a full year’s temperature and precipitation results each shown in the maximum four views, 1) use the “Shift” key and down arrow to “Select Multiple” from the “Product” menu; 2) set “month” to December; 3) Set “Time Span” to “12 months”; and 4) “year” to desired year.

From NOAA National Climatic Data Center

This map, replicated in a screen shot below, depicts average 12-month temperatures by sub-divisions within states for 2012. Washington, Oregon and Northern California were on of the few parts of the nation last year where average 12-month temperatures were relatively cool, classified as either “near normal” or just, “above normal” compared to much of the rest of the country, where heat levels in divisions of states were typically “much above normal” or “record warmest.”

From NOAA National Climatic Data Center

Another 2012 map, also shown below, depicts average rainfall by sub-divisions within states. Unlike all but a handful of other sub-divisions scattered across a much drier nation, Washington state’s I-5 corridor, plus Eastern Washington and the western quarter of Oregon had rainfall levels classified as either “much above normal” or “record wettest.”

From NOAA National Climatic Data Center

The 2011 maps show the nation as a whole experienced average temperatures “above normal” versus the “record warmest” year of 2012 and that rainfall was “near normal.” In 2010 nationally and in 2009 both temperatures and rainfall were “above normal,” one step up from average but two below the most extreme. Year-to-date results through May 2013 show “near normal” temperatures and rainfall nationally.

The year selection on the mapped data tool goes back to 2002.


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