Data Check.

2008-10-25 17:44:12.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

A sample of the forms we have to check.

I do not get to watch much television. The summit does not have television since we do not have an antenna up and I do not get television at home. So whenever I am at a friends house or my parents house in CA, I indulge in as much television as I can get like it is a rare treat that is only imported once a year. One of the shows I watch is The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and in his monologue, when he is talking about tabloids, he always says they “Check, double check, and then recheck again (their sources)” before anything gets published. Anyone who has ever stood in a checkout line at the supermarket should know that Leno is being facetious. But his quote is about their thoroughness can be applied to the summit staff in the way that we check our data over the course of the day/week/month/year.

The first round of check comes daily at 10 pm EST (Eastern Standard Time) and is done by the night observer (of which I am one). The previous 24 hours are examined on four different forms. The first form is our MF1M-10c, this is the form in which all weather stations in the US record their METAR’s (Meteorological Aviation Reports). This form is examined to ensure that everything recorded matches what was transmitted. Rounding of values, reportable values, times, remarks, etc are all examined to make sure everything was reported correctly. The WS Form B-16 is checked next, which is similar to the MF1M-10c but is a station specific form since most observation sites do not use this now defunct form. But to keep continuity in our records, we continue to use it. The information is then compared to the MF1M-10c to ensure that everything matches. Our synoptic pad is then compared to the MF1M-10c, the B-16 and our WS Form B-15 to ensure that the weather taken every three hours from the databases and weather wall was properly recorded on the three forms. Lastly is the B-15 which is looked over to ensure that the values were recorded properly, rounded properly, and that values correspond to what is being seen. This is lastly compared to bottom to the B-16 to ensure the six hour data is correct.

The next round of check comes at roughly 7 am EST the next morning and is done by a day observer (on this shift, that would be Brian). The same forms that are checked the night before are checked once again including the additional hours since the last check. In addition to these forms, the data that is entered on our Thermographs (temperature chart), Hays Chart (wind chart), daily summary forms (a digital representation of the B-16 which will be phased out at the end of the year), and our digital B-16 (which will replace the daily summary form). After all is checked, the WS Form F-6, the daily summary and Station Pressure Sheet are initialed to verify who did the checking.

The next round comes when our interns are copying our B-16 form from pencil to pen. Here, they will check the printed and digital copies of the daily summary to the penciled B-16 then copy the information to a blank B-16 in pen and compare that to the digital B-16. The intern will then initial the printed daily summary next to the day observers initials. Once penned, an observer will check the penciled and penned B-16 against each other before signing off on the penned B-16 and daily summary.

Every five days, a shifts staff meteorologist (or meteorology trained observer if a shift does not have a staff meteorologist) will do “weekly” check of the previous five days worth of data. This is mostly to ensure the data on each form matches the data on the other forms as well as verifying that the weather is well represented. The forms checked are the digital/printed daily summary, the pencil/penned/digital B-16’s, the barographs (pressure charts), the F-6 and the Station Pressure Sheet. Once done, an initial is left on a weekly check sheet to show which observer did the checking. Then all the checked documents are scanned into our database.

At the end of the month, the senior staff meteorologist (me), checks remaining, unchecked “weeks.” Then data is tallied and checked before being filled in on the bottom of the B-16. The penciled/printed/digital F-6 and Station Pressure Sheets are checked against each other for consistency. All other charts are looked over for any obvious missing data. All remaining charts are scanned. Databases are then updated and checked twice with monthly data. Then forms are sent to NWS in Grey, ME, the NCDC (who will also do a rough checking of our data before filing it in digital and hard copy locations), a few universities, and to our Weather Discovery Center. All remaining charts and forms that are not sent out are then filed in Tupperware and binders on the summit.

At the end of the year (for Mount Washington Observatory, this lies on June 30, 2009) the staff meteorologist then gathers all monthly data and rechecks that data. Once all data is verified, data is tallied and recorded in penciled and digital forms in three various places. Forms are then filed with NWS in Grey, ME and the NCDC. Then forms are filed in proper locations on the summit and the valley.

So, when it comes to weather, we check, double check, then recheck again to try and catch erroneous data. Although we are thorough, mistakes do happen, but this is true about any agency that works with a lot of numbers and data. And being thorough is the key. So let’s see how you fare with a little test. Can you spot anything strange with the following paragraph?:

This is an unusual paragraph. I’m curious as to just how quickly you can find out what is so unusual about it. It looks so ordinary and plain that you would think nothing was wrong with it. In fact, nothing is wrong with it! It is highly unusual though. Study it and think about it, but you still may not find anything odd. But if you work at it a bit, you might find out. Try to do so without any coaching!

Figure it out? Read it one more time if needed. Still can’t figure it out? Well read it one more time but this time, see if you can spot the letter “e” in it. If you realized that it was written completely without the use of “e” (the most common letter in the english language), you are on your way in becoming a thorough staff meteorologist who is very detail oriented. If you didn’t notice the lack of “e”, don’t worry, if you put it through our checking procedure, odds are someone along the checking process will find the “problem” and point it out to you.

Observer’s footnote: This Tuesday, October 28th, the observatory will be holding a fund raiser at Flatbread Pizza Company in North Conway, located across the street from the Weather Discovery Center. A portion of the proceeds from every whole or small pizza sold from 5 pm until closing will be donated to the work we do at the observatory. So you get great pizza while supporting your favorite organization. Bring a friend or if you cannot make it, please tell someone who might be able to attend. We look forward to seeing you there.


Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

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