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Purdue University launches Snowfall Climatology Toolbox

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WISH) — Purdue University is launching a new tool to track snowfall.

It’s called the Snowfall Climatology Toolbox, and it has historic snowfall data not just from Indiana, but from areas around the country.

Developers hope it can help people track weather trends more easily.

All the information is laid out on a map. Users can then click through and find data like when the average first snowfall takes place in Indianapolis, or how many days out of the year, on average, have snow.

The home screen for Purdue University’s Snowfall Climatology Toolbox. (WISH Photo)

The toolbox data is based on individual weather stations where someone took measurements every time it snowed.

The toolbox also accesses high-quality data from the applied climate information system or ACS.

ACS is a federally-funded national database of weather data that, in some cases, goes back more than 100 years.

Melissa Widhalm, the associate director of and regional climatologist at the Midwestern Regional Climate Center at Purdue, says anyone with an interest in winter weather can benefit from the toolbox.

“All this information has been available; you can go into many different databases to find it, but it’s hard to use. So, we wanted people to quickly and easily, with minimal training on the topic, be able to get a great regional picture of what’s happening with snowfall and then be able to drill into their location to find relevant information,” Widhalm said.

Not only is the toolbox interesting to check out, Widhalm says, but it could also be useful for people like city planners responsible for snow removal planning as well as homeowners who are wondering how early they should get out those snow blowers.

An image from the Snowfall Climatology Toolbox showing a record 1-day snowfall total for Indianapolis from Jan. 5, 2014. (WISH Photo)

Purdue is currently working on an updated version of the toolbox. It could go live later this winter or next snow season.