LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – It's been colder than normal in the Coulee Region this winter. And the only reason we know this is from over one hundred years of weather records.
Weather observation records in the La Crosse area date back into the late 1800s. Back then, the observations were recorded on paper and stored in books.
Since then there have been some substantial changes in technology. But many of the data collection methods have stayed the same.
"The mercury thermometer, you can still use that. We do it more digitally now, electronically," said Todd Rieck, meteorologist at the La Crosse National Weather Service Office. "And some of the ways to measure rainfall, we do it a little different now. But snowfall still is taken with a yard stick, so in many ways, the way we do it is the way they did it back then. Just with a few little tweaks."
Rieck also said most of the data, even from the 1800s, is still usable.
"The people at the National Climatic Data Center have gone back and looked at all that data," said Rieck. "Looked at where it's been cited, compared it to locations around there, so there's been a lot of extensive quality control of the old data as well as the new so it's all valid."
The bulk of our weather observation data, both now and in the past, comes from a network of volunteer observers.
To learn more about coop observers you can visit the La Crosse National Weather Service page at http://www.crh.noaa.gov/arx/?n=coop.
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