Wisconsin State Climatology Office
 John Young, Director & Professor Emeritus
Your climate information resource for Wisconsin
Wisconsin State Climatology Office

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SCO Site Map

Your Guide to Wisconsin Weather and Climate Data

For Starters

National Weather Service Offices

Wisconsin State Climatology Office

Midwestern Regional Climate Center

National Climatic Data Center

Astronomical Information

Geographical Information


A primary responsibility of the Wisconsin State Climatology Office is to provide information concerning weather, climate, environment and natural resources to the citizens, governmental agencies and industries of the state of Wisconsin.  

What is the highest temperature ever recorded in Madison?
What is the snowiest month in Green Bay?
How many thunderstorms typically hit La Crosse in a summer?
These questions may be similar to those that you may have asked yourself about the weather and climate of
Wisconsin.  But where would you begin to find the answers to these questions?  This page is intended to help guide you in finding the source of climate data most appropriate to your question.

For Starters

In starting your search for climate information, you should be aware that most of the available climatic data from around the state is obtained either from several stations that make hourly weather observations or from a network that consists of nearly 200 stations that make observations on a once-daily basis. 

The first set of stations are typically operated at major airports by the National Weather Service (NWS) or the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  The hourly observations are more detailed than the other network, containing information not only on temperature and precipitation, but also on winds, atmospheric humidity, barometric pressure and cloud cover. 

The other data network, called the Cooperative Observer Network, is more dense and collects the more basic weather data, to include daily maximum and minimum temperatures, 24-hour precipitation totals, snowfall and snow cover.   A more detailed description of the instrumentation and the types of Cooperative Observer Stations across Southern Wisconsin is available from the Milwaukee/Sullivan NWS Forecast Office.

Several other surface weather observation networks are also found in Wisconsin.

National Weather Service Offices

If you need recent daily weather data for the major stations in Wisconsin operated by the National Weather Service, consult the “Preliminary Local Climatological Data” appearing on the climate pages of each of the National Weather Service Offices.   Each office maintains monthly tabulations of daily temperature extremes, precipitation and wind data for the current month.   Archives of data tables are also available for previous months spanning the last several years. However, the data appearing in these tables are considered preliminary and thus unofficial.  They are not intended for use where certified records are required, such as in litigation.

The Wisconsin State Climatology Office

The State Climatology Office (SCO) is one of the entry points in your search.  The office acquires, archives and disseminates weather and climate data from Wisconsin’s first order stations and from the cooperative observer network commencing in the late 19th century.  Many of these records are paper copies.  Requests (phone, email or fax) can be made to this office for copies of these records.  A processing charge may be applied to orders.  Some of the information has been put into electronic format that is made available on a limited basis through email or the web.   Use  the index on our Site Map to locate some of the climate products appearing on this SCO website.    A  list of  weather stations by county  is also available.

While the SCO is the official state archive of weather records across Wisconsin, the National Climatic Data Center is the official federal archive and final authority of the original records.

Short initial inquiries for data or staff assistance staff are free. More substantial efforts are covered by our Service Charge statement.

Whenever you use climate data from this office, please cite all data with a statement such as:

The Midwestern Regional Climate Center

If you need large amounts of climatic information on a routine basis from Wisconsin or neighboring Midwestern states, contact the Midwestern Regional Climate Center (MRCC).  A variety of data in digital format for these nine states is available through purchase of a subscription to their MRCC Applied Climate System (MACS).  This menu-driven system provides ready access on a near real-time basis to a variety of temperature, precipitation and degree day products ranging from daily values to monthly, or long-term averages.  More elaborate climate statistics are also available for specific stations, climate divisions or even statewide averages.

MRCC also offers certified climate data for a fee.

The National Climatic Data Center

The National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) in Asheville, NC is the official Federal repository of all climatic data, including historical data sets, normals, extremes and other statistics.  Having undergone quality control procedures, the published certified data in their collection are considered official data and admissible in courts.  For additional information concerning certified climate records, see Environmental Information Summary C-1 "Weather Records in Private Litigation". (This document is in pdf format and requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.Get Acrobat.)

NCDC publishes a variety of climatological data in monthly printed periodical format that are available for subscription.  These periodicals include:

    • LOCAL CLIMATOLOGICAL DATA for selected city – A monthly summary of the daily summaries of temperature, humidity, wind speed and other significant weather data for a selected set of  locations, including Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay and La Crosse.  An annual issue is also published.
    • CLIMATOLOGICAL DATA for Wisconsin -- A monthly summary of the daily maximum and minimum temperatures, precipitation and snow for both the first order stations and the cooperative network.   An annual issue is also published.
    • HOURLY PRECIPITATION DATA for Wisconsin -- A monthly summary of the hourly precipitation amounts obtained for a selected set of recording rain gauges.  Nine time periods are included, ranging from 15 minutes to 24 hours.
    • STORM DATA -- A monthly summary of the reported severe weather events across the country.  Events that are reports would include tornadoes, thunderstorm winds, lightning, hail, heavy snow, ice storms and blizzards.


Additional information and a price list are available from NCDC.

Some data can be obtained online from NCDC.  Access of NCDC data by most users usually incurs costs.  See NOAA Web data access policy.

Astronomical Information

If you need sunrise and sunset information,  the US Naval Observatory has an interactive web site that allows you to generate the times of sunrise sunset, moonrise, moonset, and twilight information for any location and date.

 

Geographical Information

If you need to obtain specific information on counties, civil townships, villages and cities in Wisconsin, check the highly detailed county maps that are produced by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and available on an interactive web site that allows you to obtain the 72 county maps for Wisconsin in pdf format.