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Chapter 10-Economics and Application, No. 6, Winter 1988

Weather Wizard - A Method to Refine Weather Data for Your Location

Don Wysocki

Few growers have long-term weather records for their farms or for land that they rent. Occasionally some farms have precipitation records that date back several decades or more, but these cases are rare. It is even more rare for individual farms to have records of daily temperature. Most growers probably keep some record of crop year precipitation but these are not cataloged to produce any long-term record.

Keeping long-term records is tedious and requires a commitment for many years. Some growers have not been established for that long or may not have the time to devote to such record keeping. However, long-term records may be beneficial in making management decisions. Weather records can be used to supplement your experience and other information when making management decisions such as: (1) seeding dates, (2) seeding rates, (3) fertilizer rates, (4) top dressing rates and dates and (5) fallow vs. recropping or single fallow vs. double fallow. You can obtain records from nearby weather stations, but these may not necessarily fit the conditions for your location, and these records can be cumbersome to use,

To fine tune weather records at a particular location, John Zuzel, hydrologist with the USDA-ARS at the Columbia Plateau Conservation Research Center near Pendleton, is developing a computer software package that can generate weather records for locations in northeastern Oregon.

Weather Wizard

The software package, which has been tentatively entitled "Weather Wizard," uses weather information from 30-year records at 18 weather stations in Baker, Gilliam, Grant, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Union, Wasco and Wheeler counties in Oregon and Walla Walla County in Washington (Table 1). The software will produce average weather data for any of the 18 weather stations. In addition the program will generate average data for any location that lies within the perimeter defined by the 18 stations. For locations other than weather stations, the program generates a record by interpolating information from the three nearest stations. The interpolation is weighted by proximity of the location to the respective weather stations. Thus, closer stations are given greater emphasis. Locations are entered into the program by speci~ing their latitude and longitude. These can be obtained from state highway maps, USGS topographic maps or other sources.

Table 1. Weather station locations used in ''Weather Wizard" software.

County and location
Baker Cnty Umatilla Cnty
Baker Hermiston
Gilllam Cnty Milton-Freewater
Arlington Pendleton Exp.Stn.
Condon Pendleton airport
Grant Cnty Pilot Rock
Dayville Ukiah
Morrow Cnty Wheeler Cnty
Heppner Fossil
Sherman Cnty Union Cnty
Moro Union
Walla Walla Cnty Wasco Cnty
Walla Walla Antelope
  The Dalles

Weather Data

The program determines the average precipitation, air temperature and growing degree days for any period of time from 2 weeks to 1 year. For example, with a time window of September 1 to August 31, the following data were obtained for Helix, OR:

Average rainfall = 14.08 inches

Average temperature = 52 'F

Degree day > 32 oF = 7,278

(degree days are a measure of accumulated heat)


Secondly, the program generates, for the time specified, 10 traces or weather scenarios for the location given. Table 2 shows traces that were generated for Helix, OR. The 10 traces represent a distribution of possible weather scenarios around the average. Thus, a user can evaluate a situation for below average, average and above average conditions.

Table 2. Ten traces generated for Helix, OR, time window = 9/1 to 8/31.

Trace Total rain (inches) Average Temp. (oF) Total degree days>32 Total radiation
1 13.85 52 7,536 132,584
2 12.64 51 7,325 135,711
3 15.50 50 6,783 135,638
4 16.86 52 7,650 134,747
5 13.94 52 7,456 133,340
6 15.64 50 7,073 134,783
7 13.31 51 7,356 135,079
8 15.47 49 6,842 133,848
9 15.01 51 7,500 137,024
10 15.27 51 7,417 134,213

Any or all of these traces can be evaluated. After selecting the trace or weather scenario desired, the program will generate daily information on: (1) precipitation, (2) maximum and minimum air temperature and (3) solar radiation (Table 3). Daily weather data given by the program are not forecasts, but rather statistically average representations of past weather events. In other words, given past information about the weather, the daily values are a likely way the trace might take place.


Table 3. Partial print out of daily values for Helix, OR, time window = 911 to 8131.

Month Day Trace Number Rain (inches) Temperature (oF) Solar Radiation
Maximum Minimum
9 1 1 .00 75 49 590
9 2 1 .00 81 43 564
9 3 1 .00 86 46 580
9 4 1 .00 86 48 575
9 5 1 .06 81 52 474
9 6 1 .05 69 48 413
9 7 1 .14 74 45 124
9 8 1 .33 80 47 297
9 9 1 .05 74 49 239


Using Weather Data


Contact us: Hans Kok, (208)885-5971 | Accessibility | Copyright | Policies | WebStats | STEEP Acknowledgement
Hans Kok, WSU/UI Extension Conservation Tillage Specialist, UI Ag Science 231, PO Box 442339, Moscow, ID 83844 USA
Redesigned by Leila Styer, CAHE Computer Resource Unit; Maintained by Debbie Marsh, Dept. of Crop & Soil Sciences, WSU