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NOAA’s All-Time Records Claim Is A Sham

May 19, 2013
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By Paul Homewood




I return again to NOAA’s State of The Climate Report for 2012, and their claim that “many stations broke or tied all-time records”. Detailed analysis of stations in Kansas and Ohio suggested that most of the records claimed were at stations that were not open in the 1930’s, when top temperatures were much higher. (Also, many are airport sites).

I wanted to check out whether the same was true across the nation, so I have now audited the whole list, of which there are 355 claimed records, and identified how many are at USHCN stations.


  • The USHCN dataset is described by CDIAC as “a high-quality data set of daily and monthly records of basic meteorological variables from 1218 observing stations across the 48 contiguous United States”.
  • USHCN stations were chosen using a number of criteria including length of record, percentage of missing data, number of station moves and other station changes that may affect data homogeneity, and resulting network spatial coverage.
  • There is a known number of stations, 1218 at the last count, which will give perspective to the results.
  • Limiting the list to just USHCN sites will exclude unreliable locations, such as airports.


If NOAA’s all-time temperature records are a true reflection of the climate, then we should expect to see the same sort of records being set at USHCN stations. But, in fact, the results could not be starker.


  1. Out of NOAA’s list of 355 records, only 18 are at USHCN sites.
  2. Of these, only 10 have records going back to 1930 or earlier.
  3. And of these, 7 are ties, which leaves only 3 new record highs.
  4. One of the 3 is McCook, Nebraska. The original handwritten records for this site, however, show that a higher temperature was set in 1932, therefore casting doubt on NOAA’s claim. (See here).

(The full list is in Appendix A. )


So, less than half a percent of USHCN stations managed to tie or beat previous records, despite the summer being so hot. The law of averages would suggest double that each year, over a hundred year period.

The results of this survey show just how meaningless and misleading NOAA’s claims are, and one is entitled to wonder why they made them. But a table with 3 new records listed does not carry quite the same alarmist message as one with 355.

In my view, NOAA should withdraw their table, and replace it with a list drawn from only USHCN and other high quality sites. All airport and urban sites should be automatically excluded, and the results presented as a percentage of the overall total, so as to give perspective.

I would also suggest that they include a graph, showing the number of records set by year/decade. If the the list of State record temperatures kept by NOAA are anything to go by, most records will have been set pre 1940. (Including ties, 69% of State record temperatures were set prior to 1940 – see here.)

As the list stands, it seems to be nothing more than a propaganda exercise.





1) Full NOAA list of records

2) Full list of USHCN sites

3) Three independent sources have been used to verify station opening dates.




Station State New/Tie Temperature Year Opened
Lamar CO Tie 111 1893
Milledgeville GA Tie 110 1891
Washington GA Tie 109 1889
McCook NE New? 115 1894
Columbia SC New 113 1930
Saluda SC Tie 109 1902
Santuck SC Tie 110 1893
McMinnville TN Tie 106 1925
Lewisburg TN New 112 1890
Farmville VA Tie 106 1897


(Interesting that they are nearly all clustered in the South East)




By coincidence, Steve Goddard has just published his analysis of all USHCN stations, with data back to 1920. He comes to the same conclusions.

  1. Scott Scarborough permalink
    May 19, 2013 2:14 pm

    I averaged the dates of the State all-time-high records and averaged the dates of the State all-time-low records and guess what? The average date of the State all-time-low records was 3 years more recent than the average date of the State all-time-high records! How can that be so if global warming is having any effect on the United States?

  2. Paul Burtwistle permalink
    May 19, 2013 9:28 pm

    In Australia, the bureau of meteorology pulled out a similar trick this summer. They claimed that it was the hottest record on summer but only a close examination of their data revealed that they had not used data from many historical sites as this was now classed inaccurate, despite it having been used for decades and is the only reliable temperature record we have for many sites. In addition to this many sites that provided out of range data were dropped (i.e. any data that didn’t show a temperature rise) and bingo – BOM has the news making data that it wanted. It was widely reported on for about a week but when the flaws in the data was pointed out I didn’t see a single retraction in the press.
    It makes a mockery of the whole topic and shows how organisations like BOM, NOAA, etc continue to mislead the press and public to further their own goals. It really is time that they were forced to apply the same professional standards that private organisations have to adhere too and are held accountable for breaches of their code.
    Its only when this happens that accurate data will start to be published and people like me might start to trust scientific reporting on climate issues.

  3. Gamecock permalink
    May 20, 2013 12:43 am

    “The state of South Carolina also observed its warmest temperature on record, at any station, in late June.”

    The SC record is garbage. It is in the city of Columbia, a sure UHI candidate. The station itself is 20 meters from a parking lot, and less than 20 meters from a stone rail bed. There used to be some vegetation around it, too. At best, a CRN Class 3 station. Not one you’d use to set your state record. Unless you were hungry for a record in the hottest year on record!

    Go to Google Earth, enter Bates House USC Dorm in the search block and go look. The station is on the north side of Bates House, near the rail road tracks. Pan out and look to the west. A sea of asphalt and buildings.

    “On 30 May 1973 the National Weather Service cooperative weather station was moved to a new location on the campus of the University of South Carolina due to construction at the old location. The new site was located at 300 Bull Street, 180 feet north of the Bates House, or approximately one-half mile southwest of the previous site.”

    The station has been in use only since 1973.

  4. Brian H permalink
    May 26, 2013 5:45 am

    Just NOAA conscientiously fulfilling its mandate to understand and communicate the Truth About Climate. Just ask them! Or decipher its mission statement.

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