Average Daily Temperatures, 1911 and 2011

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, November 14, 1911: The first snow of winter fell today to the depth of an inch or more. James and I got a ride to school this morning. It seems I don’t get as many rides this year as I did last.

1911 = blue line; 2011 = red line

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

This diary entry got me searching for historic weather data.  I found daily data for 1911 and 2011 for Williamsport Pennsylvania which is located about 20 miles northwest of McEwensville on the National Climatic Data Center website.

I wondered if it had been warmer or cooler in 1911 than in 2011. So I found the average daily temperature for the first day of each month for both years.

I discovered that the average daily temperature was higher in 1911 than in 2011 for 6 months of the year; and it was lower for 5. (I could make the comparison for only 11 months, since I don’t have December 2011 data.)

The National Climatic Data Center at the U.S. Dept. of Commerce is an awesome source for historic weather data at individual weather stations across the US. The data go back to the late 1800s for many locations.

Click here find the original handwritten data sheets for individual weather stations.

Click here for more recent data for individual stations.

I started searching for weather data to learn about the November 14, 1911 snowstorm that Grandma mentioned in her diary. I was surprised to discover that it did not snow on November 14, 1911 in Williamsport. The storm must have been very localized.

2 Responses

  1. Don’t you wish you knew who gave her rides to school? On a horse or in a buggy? Boys in the neighborhood who rode horses to school? Moms or dads who were driving a cart into town with their own children? Perhaps she’s said (or will say, for those of us who haven’t read the diary yet) elsewhere. This diary is so interesting. Thanks for sharing it.

    • I would guess that it typically would be neighbors headed into town for one reason or another–though on Feb. 15, 1911 she wrote:

      “. . .I got a ride home from school this evening. It was with such a cute boy. (I didn’t know him though.) He asked me, “would I accept a ride,” and I certainly did. We talked chiefly about the weather and the snow. The name of his horse was Grace for that was what he called her.”

      When I posted this entry last winter, I felt alarmed–though obviously everything turned out fine.

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