Current Tall Timbers Research Topics
Long-Term Research Topics
Long-term weather data on Tall Timbers
Landscape history of Tall Timbers
Northern Bobwhite Mark-Recapture
Stoddard Fire Plots
Outreach & Education
Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conferences
Publications and Fact Sheets
Natural History Museum and Scientific Collections
Overview of Museums and Scientific Collections
Herbert Stoddard Bird Collection
Bird Photo Archives
Lucien Harris, Jr. Lepidoptera Collection
Roy Komarek Mammal Collection
Robert K Godfrey Herbarium
Reptiles and Amphibians
Tall Timbers Long-Term Weather Data
By Ron Masters, PhD, Director of Research
Tall Timbers and Red Hills Climate
The Red Hills region where Tall Timbers is located has a temperate sub-tropical climate. Summers are warm to hot and humid: winters are short and mild. Due to the proximity of the Gulf of Mexico (approximately 50 miles or 80 kilometers), relative humidity is high. Convective thunderstorms characterize the warm months, especially May through September. Continental frontal activity characterizes the cool season during October through April.
The average temperature is 68°F, with extremes of 106°F and 8°F on Tall Timbers. The first freeze occurs around November 25 and the last freeze around March 3 on average. December, January and February are the coolest months and May through September the hottest (Figure 3). The total average growing season extends about 280 days.
Major weather events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, and floods occur infrequently. Those that track within 50 miles typically influence Tall Timbers weather, sometimes significantly. We average 4.5 tropical storms and 3.5 hurricanes per decade within this 50 mile radius (Figure 4). September is the month with the highest frequency of hurricanes and tropical storms (Figure 5).
Weather data contain many important environmental variables that are essential to monitor when conducting research whether long-term or short-term. It is basic data which helps to understand changes we may witness in plant community and thus wildlife community data through time. Departure from average (what weather scientists report as normal) may be more important in terms of its immediate impact on plant communities and thus wildlife communities than long-term averages. Therefore variability and extremes are important data that we monitor. When conducting an experiment it is important to know if the experimental manipulation causes the effect or if the outcome of the experiment is related to weather.
The Tall Timbers Long-term Weather Database includes data for Tall Timbers Research Station and the Wade Tract.
Annual and monthly summaries for both stations date back to 1878 (Figures 1 and 2). Daily summaries are from 1930 forward and include daily precipitation, maximum temperature and minimum temperature, maximum and minimum relative humidity, and the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) (Figure 6).
Development and History of the Dataset
Prior to 1968 weather data was based on a weighted average of available weather data from weather stations within 21 miles of Tall Timbers. Tall Timbers was established as a NOAA weather station site in 1968. It was maintained as a NOAA site until the end of 1997. Daily readings of rainfall, maximum and minimum, air temperature, soil temperature, and relative humidity were taken.
In 1998, a self recording weather station was put into use. In 2003, a more sophisticated station was added in a different location on the station with a sensor array that met RAWS standards. In 2010, a duplicate station was deployed to serve as a back-up in the event that one station was down for servicing or damaged by severe weather for a period of time. These stations record observations hourly.
For the Wade Tract daily weather is from Thomasville which is ~6 miles from the preserve center. A portable weather station was deployed for a short period of time on the Wade tract during the late 1990s and early 2000s.
This data was used when available.
Regional data included in this data set include the Palmer Drought Severity Index. Because tropical storms and hurricanes strongly influence local weather patterns, we have noted all such storms since 1930 that have tracked within a 50 mile radius of Tall Timbers.
Monthly weather summaries may be made available only to visiting scientists conducting research on the station.