Regional Comparison for 2009

    I recently started looking into how, what, where and why of temperature measurements and datasets. Even more recently I started this blog, which leads me to how this post came about. While setting up this blog on the free (yes I’m cheap, deal with it), I wanted some weather widgets. Most of the widgets I found use Java-script’s which you can’t use in the free service. However I did find two sites that have widgets I could use and one of them,, has something very interesting. When you click on their 3 day forecast widget it takes you to their page and if that location is close enough to a CO-OP station it gives you a tab that will say xxxx Climate. On that page it has the Max, Min, Mean, Precip, Heating degree days, Cooling degree days, Highest Mean temp, Median Temp, Lowest Mean temp , Highest Mean year and Lowest Mean year broken down by month and an annual total. Now whats even better is if you switch from your local area to the CO-OP station location. If any other stations are close enough when you look at the Climate data tab they also will pop up. What makes it interesting for me is that the largest urban center in my area (population 28,000 as of 2008) is about 30 miles west of me. This area has two temperature stations in it, one of which is in the USHCN dataset and is used by GISS. The one in GISS is located at a water treatment plant and you can see pictures of it on the site. The other thermometer is situated at the FAA small regional airport about 2 miles outside of the city limits. Yes its an Airport but lets just say it is only slightly more busy then the John Murtha regional airport (3 flights a day!) that has been in the news in the past year. There is also 3 other stations listed, of these 1 I know is of a small town, 1 is rural on the campus of UMES (it is the Ag school) and is also used in USHCN. The last one I’m not certain about but I believe is also a small town. I then switched to the closest station to me and got another site that is really rural since it is on Assateague Island, which is a National Park! So I got me a site that has a wealth of data that I can track and plot 🙂 .

So lets start plotting:

First up is the plot for Mean Temperatures.

  Well looking at this graph it appears that there is not too much variation over the region except for Assateague Island.

 Now we take a look at the Max temperature for the region.

  Here we clearly see the Atlantic Ocean cooling off the temperature at Assateague, while there is very little difference elsewhere in the region.

 Now to Minimum Temperatures.

  In the Max temps we saw how the Atlantic kept the temperature down in the spring, here in the Min we see  the Atlantic keeping the temperature higher in the fall. The Gulf Stream is only about 90 miles off shore from Assateague Island. Another interesting comparison is Princess Anne. In the Max temp graph it is one of the highest at the same time in the Min temp graph it is the 2nd lowest which is why in the Mean graph it is below most of the other stations year round.

To see how this all plays out we need to make a bar graph of the annual average mean temperature.

Here is what I got:

  As shown there is over a 1.25 degree F difference between the most urban site to the most rural. The two small towns have very little difference between them and are very close to the Urban (28,000!) site. What is and isn’t surprising is the readings between the Airport and the rural reading at the Ag school in Princess Anne. Surprising if you see an Airport and go ah ha, exhaust everywhere from jets. Unsurprising in that the only time you really see any jets at that airport is during the summer when vacationers fly into it instead of the smaller airport outside Ocean City. The area around the airport is mostly farmland and forest.


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