NOAA’s 1981–2010 U.S. Climate Normals: An Overview

Maps of temperature and precipitation Normals for 1981-2010 and comparision maps of those Normals with the 1971-2000 period.

a) Average annual temperature Normals for 1981–2010 at individual stations across the United States. b) Average annual precipitation Normals in inches for 1981–2010 at individual stations across the United States. c) Differences between average annual temperature Normals for 1981–2010 and comparable averages for the 1971–2000 period. d) Percent difference between average annual precipitation Normals for 1981–2010 and comparable averages for the 1971–2000 period for stations with at least 25 years of complete monthly data in both periods.

In July 2011, NCDC released the 1981–2010 U.S. Climate Normals, and now a paper entitled “NOAA’s 1981–2010 U.S. Climate Normals: An Overview” will be published in the November 2012 edition of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS). The paper provides a general overview of this new suite of climate Normals products.

The 1981–2010 U.S. Climate Normals represent the latest once-per-decade release of NCDC’s Climate Normals. Climate Normals are three-decade averages of climatological variables. This new release contains daily and monthly normals of temperature, precipitation, snowfall, and heating and cooling degree days calculated from observations at approximately 9,800 stations operated by NOAA’s National Weather Service. The 1981–2010 Normals dataset is the largest, most comprehensive, and scientifically rigorous compilation of Normals that NOAA has ever released.

Meteorologists and climatologists regularly use Normals for placing recent climate conditions into a historical context. Local news broadcasts also commonly employ NOAA’s Normals in their weather news segments for comparisons with the day’s weather conditions. In addition to their importance in weather and climate comparisons, Normals are utilized in countless applications across a variety of sectors including regulation of power companies, energy-load forecasting, crop selection and planting times, construction planning, building design, and many others.

You can view the early online release of the BAMS paper here.