4 GIS Weather Data Sources

GIS weather data sources
GIS weather data sources

Download weather data for North America

It’s always raining somewhere on Earth.

Have you ever asked yourself: I wonder if it’s always raining somewhere in the United States?

GIS can provide the answer to that question and so much more! But you’ll need this helpful guidance in order to find some weather data as an input.

We look at the best sources for GIS weather data in North America that you may not already know about.

Let’s make it rain:

1 NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS)


Did you know the National Weather Service has been around since 1870?

In 1870, the NWS provided meteorological observations for military stations and the seacoast. Their 150+ years of experience has improved their ability to forecast weather and record meteorological events.

The National Weather Service data are mostly available in shapefile and keyhole markup language (KML). Their GIS weather data include flooding, precipitation, snowfall, hurricanes, fires, temperature and drought-related data. The NWS also has a large database of historical data (all the way back to 1950) with precipitation and weather/climate data. There is also an option to attain Doppler radar with RIDGE images.

2 Meteorological Simulation Data Ingest System (MADIS)


MADIS is kind of like an extension of NOAA because it integrates data from multiple stations including NOAA, federal, state, universities, volunteers and the private sector.

This combination from multiple sources translates into a finer density and higher frequency dataset. The MADIS GIS weather data contains real-time and saved real-time observational data for surface land (temperature, wind, relative humidity, precipitation), radiosonde (weather balloons) and much more..

3 Esri Open Data Portal

esri open data weather

Here’s the good news:

Esri has a lot of free GIS data specifically for weather. And it’s all in one easy search in the Esri Open Data Hub.

Now, here’s the bad news:

There’s actually so much data that you will have to sift through a lot of it to find what you’re looking for. From hurricanes to cyclones to plain old weather patters… you will find hundreds of data sets with various degrees of quality.

It’s a growing community for open data. And it’s not only weather-related.



PRISM stands for Parameter-elevation Regressions on Independent Slopes Model; not the elaborate (and slightly evil) PRISM the surveillance program operated by the National Security Agency.

PRISM uses point measurements of precipitation, temperature, other climate factors, a digital elevation model and expert knowledge to create a continuous grid with monthly and annual estimates of climatic parameters.

It’s described on their website that PRISM products “are recognized world-wide as the highest-quality spatial climate data sets currently available”.

Weather Data Everywhere

If you are in need of some high quality weather data for your GIS project, take a look at some of the sources listed above.

There is an abundance of sources to choose for weather data in the United States to suit your data needs and requirements.

Available downloadable products include precipitation, average max/min temperature, average dew point and percent of normal precipitation.

NOAA, MADIS, Weather Source and PRISM are some of the few options available in GIS format.

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