So What Was the Weather on That Day 80 Years Ago on Delmarva? The Weatherman Knows

When I’m researching a subject, I often need the weather conditions for the period under examination.  Not too many years back that information had to be critical for its acquisition was labor intensive, but now it is easily accessible from a University of Utah online database.  The values come from the National Weather Service Cooperative Observer Program.  It was created in 1880 by the Smithsonian Institute to record valuable measurements so meteorologists could better understand the nation’s climate.  The program is presently administered by the Weather Service and about 8000 volunteer observer stations take regular observations.  These volunteers record daily temperatures, precipitation, and snowfall as well as other weather events. 

H. Wirt Bouchelle of Elkton stands by his weather bureau instruments in the 1970s

Delmarva has dozens of these stations, which have been keeping a day-by-day record on the weather conditions in practically every part of the Peninsula.  Observations, which started in Salisbury, for example, on New Year’s Day 1893 continue to the present.  In that over 116-year period, the coldest day in the city on the Lower Shore was January 21, 1918, when it was a frigid  -9 degrees.  Things warmed up to the other extreme that same year for on August 7 the mercury soared to 106 degrees.  As for precipitation, a major storm blanketing the entire Peninsula dumped 20-inches of snow on the county seat of Wicomico County on February 19, 1979, and a summer storm dumped 8.9” of rain there on August 30, 1936.

Up in Dover, observations began on June 30, 1909.  The coldest day was February 9, 1934, when the thermometer stopped its rapid descent at -11, while the hottest day was 104 degrees on July 21, 1939.  That same winter storm affecting Salisbury dumped 25” on Dover on February 19, 1979, and the most rain occurred on July 13, 1947 when 8.5” poured down on Dover. 

The value of this database is that these daily observations are available through the Utah State University Climate Center for many places on the Peninsula. Click here to reach the database. By-the-way, the National Climactic Data Center has a database of these observations too, but this federal agency charges to access it’s information.

There’s an enormous array of day-by-day weather observations, which can be harvested from this database.  If you’re interested in what the weather was on a certain day when an ancestor was born it is probably here.  Or if you writing a local history and want to tie in the day’s weather conditions, with that event, check out the database.

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