Connecticut’s new short lived all time high temperature record corrected – but was it ever a record at all?

The recent heat wave in the Midwest and the eastern United States has been characterized by all sorts of exaggerated claims. One even made it into Wikipedia as an “official” all time high record. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._state_temperature_extremes

Dr. Roy Spencer alerted me to a problem on Monday, and I did some preliminary investigation, confirming that yes indeed, not only was that 113°F value not an official new high temperature record, it doesn’t even appear to be air temperature, but so far out of line could it be the heat index value for July 22nd? Either that, or a careless typo by the volunteer Wikipedian conflating 103F to 113F.

I wanted to wait a few days to see if Wikipedia’s claim that it is “self-correcting” would actually work as advertised, and I’m happy to report that the table has in fact been corrected.

It is back to the previous value of 106°F / 41°C July 15, 1995 in Danbury, CT, which is well documented. But doing further research on the high for July 22nd that was erroneously cited, even that value seems to be inconsistent with published records.

So what was the actual record and the previous one for Hartford? Well, that’s the thing, depending on where you look, you get different answers. Curious, I found myself getting sucked down another climate science rabbit hole, which took my entire Saturday morning and part of Saturday afternoon to compile for you below.

First, I checked the record event report (RER) for Windsor locks (Now an ASOS station at Hartford’s Bradley International Airport) from the NWS WSFO in Boston:

000
SXUS71 KBOX 222019
RERBDL

RECORD EVENT REPORT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TAUNTON MA
419 PM EDT FRI JUL 22 2011

...RECORD DAILY MAXIMUM TEMPERATURE AND AN ALL TIME RECORD
TEMPERATURE SET AT HARTFORD CT...

AT 406 PM THE TEMPERATURE REACHED
103 DEGREES AT BRADLEY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT. 

THIS SETS A NEW RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE FOR TODAYS DATE FOR
HARTFORD CT. THE PREVIOUS RECORD WAS 101 DEGREES IN
1926.THE TEMPERATURE OF 103 DEGREES ALSO SETS AN ALL TIME
RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE FOR HARTFORD.
THE PREVIOUS RECORD OF 102 DEGREES WAS SET ON MULTIPLE DATES OF
JULY 6 2010...AUGUST 9 OF 2001 AND JULY 3 OF 1996.

And that was dutifully reported in the Norwich Bulletin, which erroneously conflated in the title the new Windsor Locks (Bradley Airport) record for the date, and all time high for that station, with the all time high state record of 106°F on July 15th, 1995 in Danbury, CT:

Clearly, it wasn’t the hottest day in the state history. The headline is wrong.

But here’s the thing,  when you go check the official records at the National Climatic Data Center’s interactive records plotting tool, you don’t get the same as what was reported in the RER:

That’s odd.

The RER from WSFO Boston says for the date of July 22nd:

THE PREVIOUS RECORD WAS 101 DEGREES IN 1926.

The NCDC Records lookup says:

Previous 97.0°F on 1955-07-22

Let’s check some other sources, the HamWeather interactive records generator says:

They report yet a third previous record value:

Old record 97° in 1926

Bizarre. Three different sources say the previous record was three different values and dates in the past.

So what was the previous high temperature record for Hartford Bradley Airport/Windsor Locks? I have no idea, and apparently nobody is sure either, including NWS/NOAA/NCDC.

But I started to wonder about the station itself. This was an ASOS station, and as we know, they tend to have technical problems associated with reporting false high temperatures due to a design flaw, and sometimes due to placement. So I decided to have a look at the station itself. First stop, NCDC MMS station meta-database to get the exact lat/lon for the ASOS station with the COOP ID NUMBER of 063456 as reported by NCDC.

Oddly though, when I went to look up the lat/lon, I found this station had two COOP NUMBERs assigned to it, 063456 and 069704:

Looking at the history, that appears related to a station move in 1954:

By NOAA COOP station rules (as I understand them), new COOP numbers are assigned when the new environment is appreciably different, such as by distance, elevation, and/or environment. This may explain why we have different references to past record high temperature. The databases presenting the record comparisons may be using different COOP ID numbers.

But what about the temperature record of 103°F itself? I wanted to see how it compared to nearby stations, because as I’ve demonstrated in the past, ASOS stations can produce false high temperature records where a nearby station might be degrees cooler. For example the ASOS station in Honolulu that created a whole string of false temperature records that the NWS admits to, but leaves the records intact anyway. In that episode I demonstrated that two NOAA stations, only 3.9 miles apart had vastly different high temperatures. One station (ASOS at the airport) set records, the other, at the NOAA Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not.

So how would this one in Hartford hold up? Well at first glance, we see the Google Earth image for the Hartford Bradley ASOS station at 41.9381 -72.6825 shows a significantly different environment than the surrounding countryside:

The “A” marks the location of the ASOS weather station. Note how the airport is a patch of brown in a sea of green, likely due to the change in vegetation. That’s quite a stark contrast and certainly does not seem representative of the area.

In the National Weather Service Observing Handbook No. 2 (NWS, 1989), it talks about “representivity” stating:

“The equipment site should be fairly level, sodded, and free from obstructions (exhibit 5.1). It should be typical of the principal natural agricultural soils and conditions of the area…Neither the pan nor instrument shelter should be placed over heat-absorbing surfaces such as asphalt, crushed rock, concrete slabs or pedestals. The equipment should be in full sunlight during as much of the daylight hours as possible, and be generally free of obstructions to wind flow.”

Here’s the closeup view of the ASOS station at Bradley AP:

While certainly fine placement for monitoring the runways, it is not the best for climate monitoring. Note the mower lines. The character of the grass changes with the season no doubt.

So I decided to have a look at the data that day, Weather Underground helpfully archives the data, and they report the record high:

I found the temperature graph WU plotted very interesting:

It appears that from 1:30PM to 5PM, the temperature plateaued and did not change. To me, that suggests some sort of saturation related equipment failure. But, since I don’t have maintenance records for that station, I can only speculate.

But, there are other sources of data. Weather Underground also helpfully logs private weather stations in the area. Here’s one located on Poquonock / Hawthorne Ln, Windsor, CT at lat/lon 41.885 -72.692, just 3.6 miles to the SSW:

And the high temperature WU reported by that station KCTWINDS6, is 99.9°F, which is 3 degrees cooler than the nearby airport record high of 103°F:

Here’s the temperature graph:

Note the duration of the plateau is shorter, from about 2:15PM to 4:30PM. Note also the time at which the 99.9 F high occurred:

15:53   99.9 °F

3:53PM was Tmax for this private weather station.

Remember the RER from WSFO Boston said:

AT 406 PM THE TEMPERATURE REACHED 103 DEGREES AT BRADLEY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT.

So why the 3 degree difference in Tmax at about the same time? One possibility is that the airport environment is more efficient at converting solar radiation to heat, and kept accumulating heat faster than the environment of the KCTWINDS6, or as I posited earlier, it may have something to do with the ASOS equipment itself.

OK, well maybe that’s a fluke, let’s look at another station. I found another one logged by WU about 12 miles SE, called KCTMANCH2.

The high at KCTMANCH2 is also 99.9°F, which is 3 degrees cooler than the nearby airport record high of 103°F:

The graph is consistent with the other private weather station:

As is the time of the high temperature:

15:45  99.9 °F

While the other private station KCTWINDS6 had no metadata on the station type, I tend to trust the data from this particular station, because it is a quality weather station , one of the best available, The Davis Vantage Pro2 with fan aspiration:

So we have two stations at 6 and 12 miles from the airport that show identical highs (99.9°F) in a similar time frame. But, lest I be accused of cherry picking, lets look at another nearby station, one that does not agree with my premise, one even closer, just under 3 miles away at 41.920 -72.735:

This station, KCTEASTG2 had a high temperature that hit 103.6°F, and in fact it would be rounded up to 104°F by NWS rules if it were an official station. At first glance it would tend to confirm the airport record high temperature as being valid.

But when you look at the data log, you discover an odd discontinuity, the high temperature was set around 11AM:

From the KCTEASTG2 data arhcive, that high was:

11:13   103.6 °F

That Tmax doesn’t make any sense meteorologically. It is before peak insolation, and very short lived. According to this solar calculator provide by NASA, solar noon for that location is at 13:57 (GMT-6, DST enabled).

A check of other days of data, such as on July 20th, July 19th, show a similar odd peak in late morning, well before solar noon.

I’d tend to discount this station data as it looks to me as some sort of local exposure effect, like the station being influenced by direct sun or reflection of sun off a window or some other similar bias which can happen in backyard. Note the data settles down afterwards. This could simply be a case of direct or reflected sun hitting the sensor.

The metadata published by WU on KCTEASTG2  also doesn’t support a good case for this station’s measurement quality:

The WS-2308CH is a cheap weather station made in China, sold by LaCrosse. One of the big design flaws is the thermometer shelter, seen below, which bizarrely has no slots or louvers for air flow in the plastic cover, which would tend to create a trapped air hotspot when exposed to direct sunlight. That makes this station temperature exposure suspect if it gets the direct sun.

Back to the data. After that first peak at around 11AM, it cools rapidly, then starts a slow plateau upwards, peaking again over 90 minutes earlier than the time of the record high set at the airport

14:25  100.9 °F

That’s still two degrees cooler than the airport, and around the time of all the other measurements, a window of 15:45-16:15, we find:

So given the later afternoon temperatures are in the settled period after the first 11AM peak, they might be valid. The temperature data for that period are in agreement with the other two private weather stations I cite above.

Finally one more station, this one 7.4 miles to the NNE at 42.009 -72.576 in a residential area:

The temperature peaked at 102.0F

The timing of Tmax was also a bit earlier than the other stations, but has that similar ramp up right about 11AM:

According the KCTENFIE5 data archive, the Tmax was just before 1 PM:

12:55   102.0 °F

That peak temperature is an hour before solar noon in the area at 13:57, and very brief, 20 minutes later it is down a whole degree again:

13:15   101.0 °F

It never comes close to that peak again at solar noon or thereafter, so again there may be some sort of local exposure effect going on. This station while a good one, is not fan aspirated:

Without looking at the site and equipment placement, I can’t tell if that early Tmax is related to some sort of exposure issue (like a sunlight reflection) or not. But it is suspect giving the time prior to solar noon and briefness of it. Even so it didn’t reach the 103°F recorded at the airport.

At the time of the new record high at the airport, 4:06 PM, 7.3 miles to the SW, the temperature at  is once again in agreement KCTENFIE5 with all the other private weather stations nearby:

16:05    99.0 °F

Summary

  • The Norwich Bulletin reporter didn’t check the data, and erroneously conflated all time station record with an all time state record.
  • The previous record dates/values for Windsor locks cited by three different sources doesn’t match the Record Event Report issued by WSFO Boston, possibly due to the station move not being recorded in the databases properly or old databases being used.
  • There was no new all time state record for Connecticut set. The old one of 106°F on July 15th, 1995 in Danbury, CT stands.
  • The land use/albedo of the Windsor Locks/Bradley AP ASOS is significantly different than the surrounding area, and by NOAA’s own COOP handbook, would not likely be representative.
  • Other weather stations around the airport within a radius of 3-12 miles don’t show a Tmax equal to the new record high of 103°F for Windsor Locks/Bradley AP ASOS. The one that does is highly suspect due to timing and equipment. A second station that comes close has a Tmax before solar noon.
  • All four stations around the airport are within a degree of each other, between 99.0 and 99.9F  around 4PM, when the new record high was recorded.
  • As demonstrated previously in Honolulu, ASOS airport stations are known to create new record highs erroneously. This was also demonstrated by an episode of record high temperatures in Tuczon related to ASOS equipment documented by professor Ben Herman.
  • Now, as documented on WUWT a few days ago, even internal NOAA staff are beginning to doubt the accuracy of these ASOS stations.

So what is my point of all this and why did I spend so much time on it?

It is easy to claim new records, and to report them. Just look at how easy it was for some dimwit to turn 103°F  into 113°F on Wikipedia and how easy it was for the reporter to make a false claim of confusion about the all time Connecticut state record. It took just a few minutes for the reporter to write the story and headline claiming “hottest day in state history”, but it took half a day of solid work to debunk it and present it here.

When one goes looking at the data in context, a different story emerges. That story shows that there’s far more to the temperature data than the peaks and valleys. Often, they don’t make sense in the context of the measurement environment, yet they are widely used, often without question as demonstrated in this episode. Worse, sloppy or confused old records don’t seem to be adequate for determining what the previous record high for the date actually is, as demonstrated by the wide disagreement in reporting it.

To fully understand what we are measuring in surface temperature, taking the single peak high temperature without understanding the context of it can be a risky business. As I’ve said many times before, the dynamically changing land use environment at airports is inconsistent with the need for stability in long term climate measurement. Even if the station never moved, comparing highs of the past (when the airport was smaller) can lead to inflated highs today.

I would hope that NOAA takes a hard look at the new record high at Windsor Locks/Bradley AP, to see if it is valid, and that the Norwich Bulletin corrects their erroneous story about the state all-time high.

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64 Responses to Connecticut’s new short lived all time high temperature record corrected – but was it ever a record at all?

  1. Nice pile of work. Wow. Great effort.

  2. John R T says:

    Great audit.
    Is there a weather group in Hampton Roads, VA? This is my kind of game.
    John R T

  3. huishi says:

    “… but it took half a day of solid work to debunk it and present it here.”

    And millions (guessing) of people see a headline and never see a retraction. A new record! I must be getting hotter!

  4. R. de Haan says:

    Sorry to bother you Anthony but here is another “all time record claim” for Washington DC for three airports. Looks like a new campaign to bring AGW in the limelight again.

    http://www.wtop.com/?nid=41&sid=2474666

    These guys won’t give up, never.

  5. R. de Haan says:

    Bt the way, the link was posted by Drudge Report.

  6. Gary Hladik says:

    “A lie can travel halfway round the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

  7. DirkH says:

    Insolation + Chinese temperature sensor = Global Warming. Maybe out of Sun Tzu’s book;
    “Wait in your front door and you´ll see the corpses of your enemies passing by” (because they disassembled their industry because of the cheap thermometers we sold them) or something.

  8. Tucker says:

    excellent work Anthony. I was surprised to read that the four highest readings ever recorded for Hartford all came within the last 15 years. Any comment on that? Equipment change? Airport expansion? Change in air traffic protocol?

  9. jorgekafkazar says:

    Nice work! Nailed that one. You didn’t happen to run into Alice down in that rabbit hole, did you?

  10. Matthew W. says:

    WOW !!
    What a way to spend your “time off” !!
    Great work

  11. Ed Waage says:

    Another Tour de Force by Anthony on how not to measure temperature. Thanks for giving up your Saturday to correct the news headline.

  12. Henry chance says:

    They are going with the more “progressive” instrumentation.

  13. Matthew W. says:

    Tucker says:
    July 30, 2011 at 4:57 pm
    “Equipment change? Airport expansion? Change in air traffic protocol?

    I could be getting warmer.
    Or some of column A, some of column B.
    We don’t know for sure

  14. Jaypan says:

    Poor data plus bad science plus an agenda are damaging world economy – that’s what sadly is happening.

  15. Roy Spencer says:

    Wow…I’m sure glad I didn’t look down THAT rabbit hole. You are one thorough dude.

  16. Rhoda Ramirez says:

    Anthony, you want the the powers that be to recognize that a mistake was made and publish that? Get real. “AF pays $500 for a hammer” made headlines across the nation. “AF didn’t pay $500 for a hammer” wasn’t even mentioned when the original study was shown to be false and deliberately misleading. Newspapers and activits engorge themselves of scary headlines. Normalacy is dull.

  17. Dave says:

    Anthony.
    Nobody can pull the wool over your eyes! Many thanks to Dr. Roy Spencer and you for standing guard over the temperature manipulators. They never give up on the fudging game do they?
    Enjoy your Saturday evening.
    Dave.

  18. Chris says:

    Anthony,

    Great work on showing how the ASOS station there is reading high. I think the ASOS at Houston Bush Airport (KIAH) has the same problem. I have noticed that last few summers that it has been reading high. Several new high minimums have been set, while Houston Hobby (KHOU) has only set a few. For a long time Bush Airport (KIAH) temperature readings were always lower than Hobby Airport (KHOU). The last few years I have noticed KIAH readings higher than KHOU. The land use around Hobby has not changed much over the last 30 years. The land use around Bush Airport has changed significantly. Several new shopping centers have been built along with several new neighborhoods. People complain all the time about the airport noise, even though the airport has been there for over 40 years and they are warned about moving near the airport.

    I have not done the extensive research you have done to show that station is in fact reading high. I am just speculating from the highs and lows the last few summers, and from the fact that over the last 20 years how that land use has change around the airport.

  19. Tucker says:

    Matthew W. says:
    July 30, 2011 at 5:02 pm
    Tucker says:
    July 30, 2011 at 4:57 pm
    “Equipment change? Airport expansion? Change in air traffic protocol?

    I could be getting warmer.
    Or some of column A, some of column B.
    We don’t know for sure

    *************************************

    I should think it statistically improbable that one station that is that old would have its four highest all time temps in the last 15 years when most state records were set 60-100 years ago. One would think that all-time state records would have many location records with it for the same date.

    IIf Hartford’s recordkeeping began in 1949 (appears to be from Anthony’s data) and if we also say that there are 80 days in a year where Hartford may be able to set such a temp at 102 or higher (mid-June through August), then Hartford went 3,760 straight possible days without hitting 102 or higher from 1949 to 1996. Since then, they’ve done it four times in 1,200 attempts. Doesn’t seem normal to me.

  20. tokyoboy says:

    The temperature of Boston has been marvelously stable over the past 90 years:

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/gistemp_station.py?id=425725090000&data_set=1&num_neighbors=1

    The thermometer is placed also at an airport (Logan. Been there twice). I speculate that the temperature stability comes from the fact that Logan is surrounded by the sea, is well distant from downtown, and is hence little affected by its urbanization. Does this hold water?

  21. Tom T says:

    I know you love this sort of thing, but there is really only one reason why it matters if the record high was 99.8 or 103, and that if one is trying to measure global climate instead of local weather. No one’s life really changes if the local weather report is wrong, but if the global climate record is wrong then alarmism can set in. That is why I keep saying we should not be using a system designed to measure local weather to measure global climate.

  22. Doubting Thomas says:

    Two of the non-fan aspirated sensors showed spikes at about 11:00 AM. Could be that is was very calm in the area at that time and sunlight falling on the sensor covers cause internal heating. – dT

  23. Smokey says:

    Excellent debunking of a scary headline, Anthony. This is why the alarmist crowd has given up debating scientific skeptics. When the facts come out, there’s nothing to be scared of.

    Tucker: good point. The planet has been flat to cooling over the same 1997 – 2011 time period. Not that it’s impossible to suddenly experience 4 record high temperatures after almost half a century of no record highs, and of course this is just one local area… but it still pegs my BS meter. Figures don’t lie, but liars figure. And there are very few real journalists any more. Where’s the newspaper’s correction, eh?

  24. Betapug says:

    To see what a potent accelerant the “settled science” is when added to the political fuel, consider the first letter to the Norwich Bulletin following the story:
    “Could it be that the world is getting warmer? According to republicans there needs to be more
    scientific evidence. If we wait for those losers to do anything we will all be crispy critters.
    I am not a scientist but you have would have to be a fool to not believe that there is
    a problem with our atmosphere. I heard there was an iceberg the size of Manhattan floating
    off the coast of Canada. I think that our Mother Earth, the one that gives us life, is in deep
    trouble. I don’t think we realize how much damage we have done to our home. But we are
    going to find out.
    We are not going to do anything about it. We are going to wring our hands and talk about
    how hot it is and how every year it is getting hotter and hotter but we won’t do anything
    about it. It would cause a huge financial strain to American companies. What was the cost of
    all those tornadoes in the Mid-West to insurance companies. What is going to be the cost
    if it gets so hot the polar caps melt. By the way they are melting. That is what happened
    to the iceberg off of Canada.
    I don’t hold out much hope for the human race. We are too stupid to realize that our activities
    on this planet have dramatically altered our environment and if we continue down this path
    it is going to lead to our demise. I can already hear the poo pooers calling me a nut job lefty.
    I could give a rats ***. Whatever that means.
    These are the same people who are on a sinking ship up to to their noses and will tell you that
    all is well.
    Friday was one hell –no pun intended — of a hot day. I guess it’s not so bad if what I heard
    is true that Oklahoma had 30 days with 100 degree heat. They showed pictures of the roads
    buckling. It must be difficult to drive on a road where 2 sections of pavement are pointed up in the
    air. And they call this a heat wave.”

    Read more: State passes hottest day in its history – Norwich, CT – The Bulletin http://www.norwichbulletin.com/archive/x1259739490/State-passes-hottest-day-in-its-history#ixzz1Tdqf9Qkp

  25. Joe Bastardi says:

    Same thing with ACY all time record in July 1969 at 106. My father, a degreed met working in the research center there at time noticed the thermometer tended to read too warm as it got warmer, and then like Anthony loves to do, proved it to be inaccurate by close to 10 degrees when it was that hot. in other words the error increased as temps moved away from 0C . The only station close to them to even hit 100 was DC over 150 miles to the west. Temps were in the mid and upper 90s all over south Jersey that day, but the ACY reading went out control and they kept it, in spite of the thermometer being proven to be in error, and then recalibrated
    Wonder why I am the way I am about AGW ( ha ha)
    As someone who took meteo 461, instrumentation, at PSU, and had to build and calibrate instruments, you learn that the most likely error with any thermometer is to read warm because of the very nature of the instrument. It needs constant upkeep to be accurate. It is why I am a big backer of the satellite record as the final arbiter

  26. Ron Pittenger, Heretic says:

    Since I live near Worcester, MA and was home on the date of the “record,” I am able to tell all the local TV stations reported the Hartford temp that day as 103F. Several smaller cities and towns in north central Massachusetts were in the same range. When, if ever, was their equipment calibrated? Unknown. And, local attitude is that only a grinch would dare ask the question. Argh!

    Ron P.

  27. J Christy says:

    The state record for Alabama is 112F, not 114F as indicated in this table (place and date are correct). The link to the NCDC listing is correct.

  28. mike g says:

    @Tucker says:

    July 30, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    excellent work Anthony. I was surprised to read that the four highest readings ever recorded for Hartford all came within the last 15 years. Any comment on that? Equipment change? Airport expansion? Change in air traffic protocol?

    You just about cover the bases. Look closer and you’ll see most of the all time high records around the country were in the first half of the 20th centery. Any comment on that?

  29. DD More says:

    Let’s not forget the NASA study that said,
    The compact city of Providence, R.I., for example, has surface temperatures that are about 12.2 °C (21.9 °F) warmer than the surrounding countryside, while similarly-sized but spread-out Buffalo, N.Y., produces a heat island of only about 7.2 °C (12.9 °F), according to satellite data. Since the background ecosystems and sizes of both cities are about the same, Zhang’s analysis suggests development patterns are the critical difference.

    Summer land surface temperature of cities in the Northeast were an average of 7 °C to 9 °C (13°F to 16 °F) warmer than surrounding rural areas over a three year period, the new research shows. The complex phenomenon that drives up temperatures is called the urban heat island effect.

    http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/heat-island-sprawl.html

  30. LarryT says:

    We calculate a temperature anomaly for a station by comparing to a historic average for that date
    If this calculated from an area average as calculated on our local weather forecast from an historic average from each individual station.
    If it is not calculated on a station basis, that would seem to introduce a warm bias into the calculations since most of the current stations used are located in airports which have significant positive bias to the local average already.

  31. barbara says:

    Hi, I’m a long time reader but not much of a poster. I think my husband would love a weather station in the yard. Reading this I see that there are good ones and bad ones. Where can one get a good station?

    On the one hand it would be just for fun, but on the other it would be nice to have the record for ourselves.

    Thanks
    [Moderator Advertisement: Anthony has meteorological equipment for sale. See links near top right of this page. 8<) Robt]

  32. Marian says:

    I notice on that Wiki record high temp it has Washington DC 106F 41C July 20 1930.

    We were told by a TV3 reporter Duncan Garner it was just over a week or so back (from memory) when our NZ PM John Key was visiting the Whitehouse for a meeting with President Obama. Duncan Garner was reporting from Washington DC on the visit aswell as the US heatwave and was ‘claiming’ Washington DC was 47C on that day (It think it was a Tuesday). When I heard that I thought it sounds Global Warming propaganda fishy to me?

  33. jd says:

    I used to take temperature readings manually on an airport runway. Airport temperatures tend to be a little higher than surrounding areas. While that knowledge is very distant in the past we would correlate it with a machine also along with dewpoint, wind, cloud cover and any anomalous events.

    The tarmac and planes created heat. The winds blew and gusted without obstacles. We had preferred standing spots to check the temperature which was usually in a sheltered from the wind position on the sun exposed side of the weather station.

    a 2-3 degree difference over a geographical area the size of New York city would not be uncommon in the charts of the pressure gradients. It would be accepted and recorded. Even a 5 degree difference would be accept. something like 8-10 degrees difference would be recorded but considered an error in the reading. If it was a machine temp, the weather maintenance tech would be called and the machine would be offline until fixed.

  34. tokyoboy says:

    barbara says: July 30, 2011 at 7:49 pm
    “……..Where can one get a good station?………….”

    Sorry this is not a “good” one but a typically “bad” one. Tokyo from 1880 to 2011:

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/gistemp_station.py?id=210476620003&data_set=1&num_neighbors=1

    The themometer is placed within a small courtyard of our Met Office building, at the very center of ever-growing metropolis Tokyo.
    Over the 140 years, around the Met building, cars and other buildings have proliferated, energy consumtion has steadily increased, and these have raised the thermometer reading by more than 3 degC.

  35. John F. Hultquist says:

    barbara says:
    July 30, 2011 at 7:49 pm
    . . . . Where can one get a good station?

    Maybe Anthony will sell you one, but it seems he went to sleep or maybe to dinner. Can’t blame him. This post was amazing.

    Anyway, go to the Weather Underground site:

    http://www.wunderground.com/

    and it will likely respond with a list of reporting stations in your area. For me it shows 10. You can see where they are and the type of equipment they use. Check them out for a few days and see if they differ and how. Perhaps you can talk to or e-mail these folks to see how they like the equipment.

    In my case, the closest place is not the best for me because it is about 700 feet lower. One twice as far away is only about 100 feet lower and closest to me in that sense. It corresponds to my weather better than some of the others. Have fun.

  36. Eyal Porat says:

    Anthony, I have been saying it again and again, and this post is a great example for what I claim:
    Until temperature measurements are corrected and cleaned of these numerous problems and biases, there is no point at all in the whole “Global Warming” discussion.
    The human habitat has turned exceedingly urban in the last decades, and obviously it would show in the UHI effect all around us.
    Airports has grown and plane traffic has grown exponentially, it shows on the records.
    So until UHI is successfully excluded from the measurements, all records should be suspected.

  37. Anthony Watts should receive worldwide acclaim for his efforts as a champion of truth in a time when politicians and their boot-licking “scientists” are attempting to mire the world in their self-serving lies. He really is doing a noble thing in standing up to their evil.

    After I post this I am going to donate to his blog.

    REPLY:
    Thanks but, never attribute malice to what can be explained by simple incompetence – Anthony

  38. Hey – I see a donation button for Surface Station Project; how does one donate to WUWT blog?

  39. I just donated to Surface Station Project. If you add a donation button to WUWT, I will donate there too.

    Keep fighting the big lie!

  40. Brian H says:

    For the purposes of Anthony’s blog and SS Project, the donation button covers both. It all goes in the same deserving pot. So, don’t look for another button, MatC, just donate again. :)

  41. Paul Deacon says:

    Hey Anthony – watch those rabbit holes – when you go down one you never know where you will come out!

  42. Blade says:

    Great work Anthony.

    As someone said above, that is a terrific audit.

    Perhaps your attention to details and methodology can serve as an effective example for other people (perhaps even WUWT readers).

    I cannot believe you find the time to do all that you do!

  43. KnR says:

    As noted before weather stations at airports are designed to provided information on weather for aircraft using the airport , and that is what there designed around . Trying to use them to provide information for a wider area is always going to problematic as airports by their nature are not TYPICAL of their area.

    In the past this was not such an issue as it was accepted that weather is rather unpredictable , its only once very great claims and silly claims of accuracy are being made on the back on these stations which in turn where extended to much wider areas , does this start to be a real issue.

  44. Brian H says:

    So, here’s an interesting almost-plausible thought experiment. Imagine all the world’s cities Get Religion and sod and green all the large flat (or mildly sloped) roofs with plant life, thus cooling the cities dramatically. Naturally, this will crash the recorded temperatures fed into the weather/climate models, and everyone will either celebrate the defeat of Climate Change(-caused-by-Hoomons) and/or panic at the rapid onset of the next Ice Age glaciation. In the latter case, citizens will be urged to generate as much CO2 as possible, and as much soot as possible, collecting any that accumulates for eventual spreading on the ice sheets. Also, they will be urged to rip out their roof gardens and cover the surface with matte black.

    Quickly, the city temperatures will begin to rise, then soar. In a panic, the authorities …

  45. Dave Springer says:

    Glancing at the wikedpedia list of state record high & low temperature 1990-2011 doesn’t stand out in either category as having more record highs or lows. Given the mantra that 2000-2010 is the hottest decade on record one might expect that new record highs in that decade would be more frequent instead of more or less the same as any other decade. Is that somehow not a reasonable expectation?

  46. Beth Cooper says:

    What was it we used to say? ‘Trust but confirm.’ Now I guess we just say,’Confirm.’
    Thanks, Anthony, your scepticism is in the best traditionof science.

  47. TrueNorthist says:

    It is this incessant reporting of high temps only that grates with me. Even though the entire west coast of N America is setting records for cold and rain we see nothing but very localised reports of “record” heat — mostly from ASOS stations at airports! This lopsided reportage is pandemic in media. It is abundantly clear that media is knowingly spreading this false narrative with the aim of promulgating the AGW doctrine.

    Thanks for taking the time to put this article together Sir Anthony. Even though I haven’t confirmed if my PayPal account is working properly yet, I am going to hit the donate button again. I’ll just skip buying rod holders for my canoe for a few weeks. It’s well worth it!

  48. Bloke down the pub says:

    But if the powera that be install accurate thermometers, on good sites, and keep proper records, that would cause global temperatures to drop and I don’t like getting my toes cold.

  49. Garry says:

    R. de Haan says July 30, 2011 at 4:44 pm: “here is another “all time record claim” for Washington DC for three airports.”

    Something even vaguely similar to Anthony’s outstanding audit work might show the reporting to be flawed.

    As a DC local, I’d start from the simple premise that for decades WTOP radio has been a notorious serial exaggerator of the news, along the lines of “Coming right up…. world about to explode in devastating fireball.” That they continue to succeed with this formula is just plain weird. Anything they pronounce as news is automatically suspect.

  50. Nonegatives says:

    My Dad used to always say, “Why do they always give the weather at the airport? No one lives at the airport!” I think he would be pleased to see how true is words were so many years later.

  51. johny says:

    “Now an ASOS station at Hartford’s Bradley International Airport”

    Bradly international airport is located in Windsor Locks not Hartford. And that station is suspicious because there is often a record high being broken there AND almost everyday the highest temperature of the day in CT is set in bradly airport, at least from the stations local TV meteorologists use.

  52. Hu McCulloch says:

    Now that the CRU data has been released (see http://climateaudit.org/2011/06/27/ico-orders-uea-to-produce-crutem-station-data/ ), I hope that dozens of WUWT readers will look at their local data to investigate whether and to what extent CRU warming since the 1940s has been just a reflection of the growth of civilian airports since then.

    In Ohio, for example, 8 out of 10 CRU stations are urban airports, versus 0 out of 26 USHCN stations. Some of the USHCN stations (Urbana stands out) are awful, and very few are ideal, but many are at least better than airports.

    (Ohio has 10 CRU stations only if one counts Cincinnati as being in OH — as air travelers know, it’s actually in KY!)

  53. Carrick says:

    And that, sir, is why I almost never make statements like “the first time that…” or “the historically largest” etc, in my peer reviewed publications.

    Establishing that something is indeed “the first”, “the largest” etc, is d@mn hard work.

    I am also suspicious of the 1995 Danbury record. It could be there were similar problems with that measurement too.

    And that begs the question of the accuracy of early 20th century readings, though I’d be surprise if they were positing their thermometers near large concrete tarmacs. ;-)

  54. Vinny says:

    So with all your work and time consuming at that, and as stated by others no retraction of the “Proof of Global Warming and record heat” the net result is no record, just a hot summer day in July. Shocking!

  55. Interstellar Bill says:

    As I’ve previously posted, my experience with thermometry showed that aspiration was essential for accuracy and timeliness (no lag between temp changes and instrument response). I take it that very few stations are aspirated, and some aren’t even ventilated. And they call this science?

    Accurate measurement is the bedrock of science, and the slayer of junk science.

    The other essential item for trustworthiness, mandated by the old solar-testing spec ASHRAE 93-77, was periodic calibration against NTS-traceable thermometers. You can be sure this is never done, since it might reveal the source of all those systematic differences WUWT has extensively reported between geographically adjacent sites. But if most thermometers erred towards lower temps you know the warmistas would be calibration fanatics, so I’m guessing that the drift is mostly to higher temps.

  56. beng says:

    *****
    So why the 3 degree difference in Tmax at about the same time?
    *****

    Anthony already knows the answer, but I’ll repeat it — green is vegetation, evaporating water & cooling the immediate surroundings, esp if winds are light. Concrete, asphalt & dried-to-a-tinder grass/soil has no water to evaporate, so those sites are hotter during the day by at least several degrees. This isn’t rocket science.

    The so-called heat-wave was a relatively stagnant, very hot & humid airmass that was rather remarkably uniform over a wide area of the mid-Atlantic & N England states. So it’s an excellent test of many airport-to-rural or wooded suburban site comparisons for a good measure of airport UHIE. My rural spot had 97F (36C). I heard/read the same high temp from other nearby sites. The Hagerstown, Md site (60 miles east), which certainly has a significant UHIE, recorded 102F (39C). I note this difference is consistently repeated during low-wind, sunny periods.

  57. Only very slightly off topic, this report appeared in a Cumbrian newspaper recently:

    http://www.newsandstar.co.uk/news/ice-rescue-for-cumbrian-men-on-greenland-trekking-holiday-1.862441

    Two Cumbrian men had to be plucked to safety by a passing helicopter after becoming trapped on melting ice in Greenland.

    Tells the story of two mountaineers who were caught out by ice melt on a glacier. I was amused by the following:

    “They must have been shocked by what they found; glaciers shouldn’t just melt like that in July.”

    But the thing that makes this somewhat related is:

    “It shows the extent of global warming. In the village they’re in now the temperature is 25C, which is unheard of there.”

    25C seems so far out that it couldn’t possibly be true, but I lack the skill to track down where the nearest stations might be to see what the temperature actually was. I’d like to write to the Times and Star to suggest they make a correction, but without hard data it would be hard to argue the case. Any suggstions?

  58. OLD44 says:

    “a careless typo by the volunteer Wikipedian conflating 103F to 113F.” maybe, 45°C instead of 39.4°C, another careless typo?

    REPLY: In America, we think in degrees F, the conversion to degrees C likely came afterwards, following the conflation – Anthony

  59. SasjaL says:

    Derek Sorensen says:
    July 31, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    I thought it was amusing too. Do they go skating on thin ice in the spring as well …?

    “Tells the story of two mountaineers who were caught out by ice melt on a glacier. I was amused by the following:

    “They must have been shocked by what they found; glaciers shouldn’t just melt like that in July.” ”

    This is what happens during the summer … Shocking news!

    ” “It shows the extent of global warming. In the village they’re in now the temperature is 25C, which is unheard of there.”

    25C seems so far out that it couldn’t possibly be true, …”

    During the summer:
    Norwegian Wikipedia specifies the record in modern history for Nuuk as +24 ° C.
    The Swedish version specifies +20 ° C in the fjords.
    The German version specifies +16 ° C (avg) in Kangerlussuaq.
    The Danish version specifies +11 ° C (2003) in Kangerlussuaq.
    The English version specify only 7 ° C in Nuuk …
    The Dutch version does not mention any temperature at all …

    (Regarding Wikipedia, it is not enough to read only in one language …)

  60. Pete says:

    In regards to the fourth station site, the high of 102 may have also been inflated because it was to the northeast and downwind of the airport. Winds were out of the Southwest that day at around 10 – 15 mph with higher gusts. Stations south of the airport were 3 degrees lower as you stated. Would be interesting to see if this holds up at other airports across the US.

  61. SasjaL says:
    August 1, 2011 at 7:25 am
    (Regarding Wikipedia, it is not enough to read only in one language …)

    So if would appear! Must admit, I never even thought to go to Wikipedia for temperatures, although I did use it to find a list of airports in Greenland, and then sampled a few of them in weather underground. Having just repeated the experiment, I’ve noticed some higher values than I did last time, so perhaps 25C isn’t so incredible after all.

  62. Mark and two Cats [me] said:
    July 31, 2011 at 12:00 am
    > Anthony Watts should receive worldwide acclaim for his efforts as a champion
    > of truth in a time when politicians and their boot-licking “scientists” are attempting
    > to mire the world in their self-serving lies. He really is doing a noble thing in
    > standing up to their evil.
    >
    > After I post this I am going to donate to his blog. [I did]

    Anthony Watts said:
    >> REPLY: Thanks but, never attribute malice to what can be explained by simple
    >> incompetence – Anthony

    A measured, gentlemanly response Anthony, but mere incompetence does not adequately explain the CAGW “scorched-earth” campaign – else why would this be posted on WUWT:

    New term from the Chronicle: “Climate Thuggery” By Peter Wood
    Posted on August 1, 2011 by Anthony Watts

    http://tinyurl.com/4yntjeb

    :)

  63. Brian Hall says:

    I think we need a new acronym to go with UHI; AHI – “Airport Heat Island”.

  64. Phil says:

    The edit to the Wikipedia page changing the CT record to 113 was made by a registered user, but one who has made only four edits in his/her entire editing history. The correction was made five days layer by an unregistered editor from Illinois. It is desirable that edits are accompanied by edit summaries, explaining the changes and links to reliable sources. Neither the editor adding the information nor the one removing the information provided an edit summary, or a link (removal of unsourced material will typically not have a link.)

    I think the supposition that the entry was a typo 113 instead of 103, and a conversion of that typo to degrees Celsius, is a likely scenario.

    I can also attest that the location of the Windsor Locks instrument is not typical of the surrounding countryside.

    Phil

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