Friday, January 15, 2016

Why is it so cold in Rome, Ohio?

Last winter, Rome, Ohio in Ashtabula County reached an unofficial state record low temperature of -39. Why is Rome, Ohio so cold compared to other rural locations?  It lies in a valley surrounded by higher elevation. The denser, colder air drains into the valley when the sky conditions are clear and the winds are relatively calm. The heavy snow cover also promotes more cold.

I emailed a variety of people within the National Weather Service asking why this temperature was not certified as the new state record low. Gerry Creager explains:

"In general (and there are others on here who can correct me if I'm wrong), US NWS, and climatological records are recorded by the National Weather Service Forecast Office with responsibility for that area, as well as the Operational Monitoring Branch of the Climate Prediction Center (
In addition, the various State Climatologists are responsible for their local data, and report to their own State, often as direct reports (at least on paper) to their Governor.
There are three networks of stations that might use for climate monitoring, including the Historical Climate Network, the Climate Reference Network, and the Federally maintained ASOS sensors usually found at airports. To the best of my knowledge, unofficial, and Citizen-Science sources are not included in monitoring extremes for records, but may be used, as they are in operational meteorology, as sanity checks for other observations. 
I believe you can pull the MADIS Mesonet records, and look at METARs as well. There are several climate data sets in there, but the ASOS data are present, as are the CWOP data. You might also want to peruse, and the NCDC holdings.
Note: This is based on my knowledge and interpretation due to my research, and some of the work I do with the CWOP servers. There are other folks, associated with the Federal side of CWOP and MADIS, included here, who can provide more authoritative data, perhaps."
Gerry Creager

John Horel from NOAA reiterated the same ...

"Gerry covered the issue very well. It is very difficult to get the Climate Extremes Committee managed by NCDC to use networks beyond NWS/FAA.
for more details on the process, etc."
So it doesn't look promising that Rome, Ohio will officially break the all-time state low temperature record set back in 1899 in Milligan, Ohio