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Why Farmers Can Use Hourly Weather Data

Why Farmers Can Use Hourly Weather Data
From hourly to three months out- what data you need depends upon your goal.

By Ken Scheeringa

Weather station networks exist for different purposes. The National Weather Service cooperative network has operated since about 1880 to observe long-term climate. The CoCoRaHS network started in Indiana in 2006 with closely-spaced local rain gauges and information collected by volunteers with weather training. . Today we go online to find past and current hourly airport weather data, designed to assist pilots, but useful for other purposes as well.

Too windy or not? Suppose you spray and later a neighbor claims injury to trees. Tracking down local weather data at the time you sprayed when help determine wind conditions

Insurance investigators use hourly data to validate homeowner claims of wind gust damage to roofs. Firemen want to know if weather played any part in a suspicious fire loss, especially the timing of wind gusts or rainfall. Should field spraying have been postponed to a calmer day? Hourly weather data is useful to answer these kinds of questions and many others.

There are several Web sites with this information. Automated agricultural networks, such as at Purdue Ag centers, measure soil temperature, solar radiation and other items of interest to farmers. Today we look at the Weather Underground Website which collects data from large and small airports in each state.

Go to: www.wunderground.com/history. Select an airport near you and date of interest. Click 'Submit.' Scroll through the data to the bottom of the page to find hourly weather observations for the station.

To move to another day, enter a new data or click 'Next Day' or 'Previous Day" links near the top of the page. If you need to save the data, click the 'Comma Delimited File' option below the table of observations. Then you will be able to view each data column in MS Excel.

Scheeringa is the associate Indiana state climatologist. He writes from West Lafayette.

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