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  • InsideTrack
  • October 07, 2015

    Avoid the Dark and Stormy Night: Online Weather Information Resources

    Do you feel lost in the clouds or a little foggy when posed with weather research? Here are the top weather information tools freely available online.

    Laura Olsen

    StormfrontOct. 7, 2015 – “Blow, winds and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!”

    So begins act three, scene two in King Lear. Shakespeare invokes a storm metaphor to reflect Lear's feelings of powerlessness. Society is often powerless in weather situations, and weather dramatically influences human affairs.

    Weather conditions can lead to legal and insurance matters such as motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall cases,and flood insurance compliance issues. Witness examination can address weather conditions and atmospheric elements as such as position of the sun, cloudcover, temperature, precipitation, and fog.

    Accurate information on weather conditions can have a significant impact on litigation and insurance claims. Weather information needs for the legal practitioner range from complex to simple, such as checking a forecast before business travel.

    Here are some resources to help you with your weather research that cover current, past, and future weather.

    Popular Sources

    Popular sources for current weather conditions and forecasts include The Weather Channel's and Weather Underground, available on the web and via mobile device apps.

    Laura OlsenLaura Olsen is the Legal Research Operations Specialist at Quarles & Brady LLP in Madison. A 22-year law library veteran, Olsen conducts legal research, advises attorneys and other researchers on legal research methodology, and evaluates and implements cost-effective legal research information solutions.

    Olsen is a current member of the Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin (LLAW), a chapter of the American Association of Law Libraries. LLAW's Public Relations Committee coordinates regular contributions by its members to InsideTrack. provides general weather information, plus forecasts on tornadoes, hurricanes, allergies, commuter weather, and severe weather. Radar and satellite information is also provided.

    In existence since 1993, Weather Underground purports to be the Internet's first weather service, and enhances standard weather reporting with data from tens of thousands of personal weather channels, providing a greater local emphasis to its weather reporting. These services retrieve their data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is the one-stop-shop for all things U.S. weather-related.

    NOAA: Your One-Stop Shop for Weather Information

    With roots dating back to 1809, NOAA monitors and records environmental conditions to apprize citizens of constantly-changing weather conditions. NOAA's mission is predicting and understanding the weather, sharing weather information, and conserving coastal and marine resources.

    NOAA's National Weather Service provides weather, water, and climate information, forecasts, and notifications. The site can be customized to your desired zip code or city and state.

    Researching Past Weather Information

    NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCIE), formerly the National Climatic Data Center, hosts and provides access to comprehensive climate and weather data and information.

    Within this site Climate Data Online (CDO) provides a wealth of searchable historical weather information in a user-friendly format. This includes daily, monthly, seasonal, and yearly measurements of a myriad of weather elements – including temperature, precipitation, wind, degree days, and radar data. A particularly recommended tool is Local Climatological Data, which provides hourly, daily, and monthly climatic data for numerous U.S. cities. These tools can be used to research and document historical weather conditions influencing circumstances related to litigation and insurance claims.

    Certified Weather Records

    Weather information records can be introduced as evidence to support or refute testimony. NCEI is the official custodian of National Weather Service records, and fulfills requests for authenticated weather and atmospheric records for litigation or insurance claims purposes.

    Two types of certified records are offered: a signed Department of Commerce Certification, which includes a ribbon and agency seal, and a General Certification, which is simply signed. These certifications are drafted to comply with general evidentiary requirements for documents introduced under exceptions to the hearsay rule per Fed. R. Evid. 803.

    Details on ordering certified weather data is available from the National Climatic Data Center. Information dating back to July 1996 is available for certification.

    Alerting Tools: Weather Forecasts and Warnings

    Would you like a personal meteorologist to send you weather updates?

    • offers customizable email alerts of daily forecasts and severe weather watches and warnings. Enter your email address, zip code, select the dates and times when you would like to receive updates, indicate if you would additionally like information on watches and warnings, and you're set.

    • WeatherUSA offers free personalized real-time text message and e-mail alerts covering weather warnings and watches as soon as they are issued by federal agencies.

    • The Weather Channel's offers mobile alerting, which requires a download of the Weather Channel App.

    • True weather enthusiasts rely on a weather radio for NOAA's Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) radio network, which broadcasts continuous weather information directly from the nearest National Weather Service office.

    “Weather” you're looking for historical weather data to use in the context of litigation or insurance claims or seeking a forecast for planning purposes, these information sources should help make your weather research a breeze.

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