As many of our frequent readers to this space probably know, I love weather statistics. Since the days of my first computer, downloading weather data and then parsing the numbers into averages, standard deviations and other not so common statistical properties has always been a hobby. In fact, my Master’s thesis was a statistical analysis of weather data for portions of this region.
Yet, I have always understood the limitations of such data when it comes to one important element, time. Good weather data only goes back approximately 150 years and in many areas the data is relevant for far shorter periods. Therefore, you will frequently find me writing the phrase, “since 1881”, or another applicable year based on the subject.
Sadly, I hear or read the phrases “ever” or “unprecedented” far too frequently when weather events are mentioned. Using past proxy data, dairies and other historical records, clearly shows that those terms are highly misleading as our very meager weather records only give us a brief glimpse to all the possible weather variations that has impacted the planet over the millennia and should never be used to describe current weather events.