There are more and more data sets available from a myriad of sources. One interesting source is the National Weather Service, which blogger and media executive Rob Frydlewicz uses to track New York City weather patterns. With increased interest in climate change, his body of work over the past 11 years is proving to be prescient.
Years of media research experience have enabled Frydlewicz, Senior Media Operations Manager at Dentsu International Americas, to combine his interest in data and analytics with a lifelong passion -- meteorology. His blog, NYC Weather Archive, uses data from the various sites maintained by the National Weather Service to track trends and outlier events in the metropolitan area. Interestingly, what started as a hobby eleven years ago has become a "must read" for his many fans and has led to television appearances in local news as a weather expert.
Charlene Weisler: Tell me about your blog, why you launched it and how long ago?
Rob Frydlewicz: NYC Weather Archive looks at every calendar date and focuses on unusual or interesting weather occurrences in New York (Central Park) from past years (all the way back to 1869). On average, each date has highlights for 10 to 15 years. In addition to day by day, there are also in-depth posts about topics such as NYC snowstorms, NYC weather on historical dates, weather on holidays and events such as the NYC Marathon, and Gay Pride Parade. I started the blog because I had a lot of weather data I collected since meteorology is a hobby. I'm not interested in predicting the weather, but to keep track of New York's weather history. A career coach I was seeing some time ago suggested I share this passion by starting a blog, which I did 11 years ago.
Weisler: How do you prep and analyze the data?
Frydlewicz: I observe the weather conditions every day and have a very good memory (as well as folders of spreadsheets) so I’m thinking about whether today’s weather conditions are noteworthy based on what's happened in the past. In order to make this blog compelling it requires knowing what information is interesting and how to write about it concisely. It’s similar to TV ratings analyses I used to do at my full time job in media research.
Weisler: Do you interact with your readers?
Frydlewicz: I get questions from readers interested in weather conditions on the day they were born, or the date when their ancestors came to Ellis Island, as well as questions from reporters, authors and lawyers.
Weisler: What trends do you see weather-wise?
Frydlewicz: Warmer nights, more frequent snowstorms.
Weisler: Have there been any surprises and if so, what?
Frydlewicz:We've experienced extreme weather throughout the years that weather information has been collected - it's not a recent development. Compared to other parts of the country, NYC’s hottest summers were prior to 2000, especially from the 1940s thru 1990s. Since the general public has little memory when it comes to past weather they tend to exaggerate the weather of today as being hotter than the past or with fiercer storms.
Weisler: Is there any data that you wish you had access to, but currently do not?
Frydlewicz:I wish temperatures were expressed to one decimal point rather than expressed as whole numbers. This would make the data a bit more precise, and there would be fewer ties when it came to record highs/lows. Also, up until five years ago there was more detailed rainfall information by hour, and reports by 5 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 60 minutes, etc. I don't know why the NWS stopped reporting this.
Weisler: What advice would you give people interested in the impact of weather, based on what you have seen?
Frydlewicz:Only by looking at the history will you realize that weather is always characterized by wild swings in temperatures and intense storms. Additionally, there are some very good books about historical weather events, including Northeast Snowstorms by Paul Kocin.
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