1 Reply Latest reply on Jun 11, 2021 11:54 AM by Charleen Vocca

    Looking for National Weather Service watches/warnings

    Jamie Sandford Newbie

      I am scanning and organizing some old photos from my family from Winston County, Alabama from the late 1970's and am looking to accurately date set of photos with the help of some National Weather Service data.  I'm looking for National Weather Service watches/warnings from 1977-1978. Both my parents and grandmother lived in close proximity in the county. On either Christmas Eve 1977 or 1978, there was apparently bad enough weather/tornadoes in the area that on that night, we moved all of the presents from my grandmother's house ( which had no basement and where we were to have Christmas morning) to ours, which *did* have a basement.  There is even an old Polaroid taken of us sheltering in our basement that night, presumably from tornado warnings or something. I'd like to be able to label the photos with the right year and knowing which year this weather situation occurred will help.


      The National Archives Atlanta office pointed me to two data sets at https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cdo-web/datasets/LCD/stations/WBAN:13876/detail  that allowed me to pull 12/24/1977 and 12/24/1978 data, but I nothing sticks out in the data indicating "severe weather" that would help me clarify which year this was so I can catalog my photos. So, I'm looking to see if there are any archives of the text of actual watches and warnings issued on Christmas Eve of either year by the Birmingham NWS office (BMX) which covers Winston County in north Alabama. I reached out to the local office directly and they do not have any such archive. Is this data available somewhere that I haven't found yet?

        • Re: Looking for National Weather Service watches/warnings
          Charleen Vocca Scout

          Dear Jamie Sandford,


          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


          We searched the National Archives Catalog and located the series Storm Data Files, 1993 - 2005 in the Records of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Record Group 370) that includes the Storm Data and Unusual Weather Phenomena Data File, 1950-1992 which include raw data file(s) and technical documentation. Please review the documentation and the Technical Specifications Summary before downloading the data. Since the raw data may be used with any appropriate software, if the files do not already include a contemporary standard extension, you may wish to download the files as All Files to ensure the files download correctly. For any technical assistance, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Electronic Records (RDE) at cer@nara.gov


          Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDE. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.


          The following documents, made available through the NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, may be helpful in determining the weather conditions for December  1977 in Storm Data and Unusual Weather Phenomena, as well as for December 1978 in Storm Data and Unusual Weather Phenomena.


          Lastly, we searched the internet and located an unofficial website titled Ultimate70s.com. It includes very general weather conditions on December 24, 1977 and December 24, 1978 for Birmingham, AL. Christmas Eve in 1978 seems to have slightly more severe weather 


          We hope this is helpful.  Best of luck in your research!


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