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Gimme, gimme that GOOD data...wind direction + air quality in Chicago
April 16, 2014 10:01 AM   Subscribe

I'm working on a little side project mashing up some interesting data to get a better historical picture of some city-level decisions around urban planning. And I'm trying to chase down two types of data (the only two categories that have eluded me thus far.)

--Record of changes in daily wind direction between September 2013 and March 2014 for O'Hare International Airport, and
--Any air quality data between 2001 and 2014 measured on the northside of Chicago (north of Belmont, south of Chicago city limits, east of O'Hare and west of the lakefront)

This is really a shot in the dark but Metafilter is so wonderful at solving the impossible that I thought I'd try it.

I have access to a university library, the Chicago Public Library, and a lot of tenacity to dig through tons of data and PDF's if needed. Any suggestions?
posted by jeanmari to Grab Bag (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Here is your daily wind direction data:

Go here and then do the following:

Select "Preliminary MOnthly Climate Data"

Select the location (you should see O'Hare as an option)

Select "Archived Data" and then the month you want.

hit "Go"

When the report pops up for that month you will see a column labeled 2 Min Dir. That is your wind direction for each day of the month, given in degrees out of 360. So a 90 degree wind is easterly, 180 degrees is a southerly wind, 270 is a westerly wind, and 0 or 360 is a northerly wind. And to be clear, a wind direction of 130, for example, would be southeasterly.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 10:16 AM on April 16


And just to be clear again--a northerly wind is wind that comes from the north, not wind that blows to the north, etc.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 10:24 AM on April 16


Google "daily air quality data"

A number of links to the US EPA come up. It looks like the EPA has daily data but I have not browsed these sites so I am not sure about locations.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 10:35 AM on April 16


Have you already sifted through IEPA's annual air quality reports? It looks like the Mayfair Pump Station monitoring location (4850 W Wilson Ave) is within your northside boundaries. If you need raw data that's not directly included in the reports, you may have to FOIA IEPA for it. They're really good about those kind of requests in my experience, but you'll probably have to wait a few weeks.

If IEPA doesn't have what you're looking for, then I think you're out of luck. I doubt there's anyone else in the city that does air quality monitoring with any regularity.
posted by gueneverey at 3:01 PM on April 16


High resolution wind data is available through the Forecast API. No air quality data though. This sounds intriguing and I have some scripts for pulling data out of their API, let me know if I can pull something out for you!
posted by kaytwo at 3:33 PM on April 16


@SeymourZamboni, thank you for that lead. It eventually landed me here, which is closer to what I'm looking for (changes in wind direction throughout the day, historically). I would love to be able to use a daily average, but that isn't accurate enough unfortunately. I'll poke around and see if I can find tables or a database of tables.

@kaytwo, the Forecast API looks super promising! I'll peek around in there and try and figure out how often they track wind speed and I may MeMail you with questions.

I did find this service for pulling down historical wind data to Excel, but they charge for historical data files.

@gueneverey, awesome find! I'm using the interface to check for the air quality data. Seems like the EPA and Chicago shut down a lot of air quality monitors in those geographical parameters in the mid-late '90s. Still hoping that there are some monitors somewhere there that I am overlooking. Checked out the independent stations related to Weather Underground but I'm still not able to find what I need.
posted by jeanmari at 10:35 AM on April 17


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