Tech Tips for Writers: Historical Weather and a Research Challenge

When you’re writing a story, setting is key. And weather is a part of the story. It’s valuable in nonfiction, historical fiction, or any story. When I write about the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, it’s important for me to note it was snowing in April.

But how do I know that? How can I find out?

I used to use the app Dark Sky, but this app has been integrated into Apple Weather. So now, if I need historic weather information, I turn to Weather Underground.

On the desktop website, enter the city where your story takes place, click on “history” and enter the date you need.

But Weather Underground only goes back to the 1930.

A Research Challenge

So let’s say we are writing about the Johnstown Flood, which happened on May 31, 1889. There is a lot of information online about the weather on the day of the floor. But our story starts one week before the flood. What was the weather like on May 24, 1889?

Can you figure this out? I haven’t been able to find easy to access historical weather data for this specific date. If you can find it, share your results!

Johnstown today

Johnstown in 2018

Memorial to the unidentified lost in the flood

Near where the South Fork Dam was