Weather PastCast: Your Weather Report from the Past!

Special Collection holds a collection of weather data for Raleigh, N.C., for the years 1887-1972.  Here is a cover page for the record of 100 years ago, August 1923.

Special Collection holds a collection of weather data for Raleigh, N.C., for the years 1887-1972. Here is a cover page for the record of 100 years ago, August 1923.

Special Collections staff thought it would be fun to travel back in time and highlight this week in Raleigh, N.C., weather from the past.  Here is a weather report from 100 years ago with conditions for the week of 19 - 26 August 1923.  Our information comes from old Weather Bureau log books held by Special Collections.

It was a week of extremes for Raleighites.  The high for the week was 92 degrees Fahrenheit on both August 20 and 21, and the low was 56 on August 23.  August 23 was actually remarkable.  That 56 was the lowest temperature recorded during that August.  The high that day was only 61 degrees, which is a record, being the lowest daily maximum temperature ever recorded on that date in Raleigh.  The following day had a high of 71 degrees, which was also a record low daily maximum temperature for that date (see the National Weather Service list of daily records for Raleigh).  The cause of this cool spell may have been a cold front that came through during the afternoon of August 22, when temperatures went from 91 degrees at 1:00 pm to 59 by 7:00 pm, and they kept falling.  A thunderstorm brought a significant amount of rain too, just under 1.5 inches during the 4:00 hour.

The Raleigh weather log for 22 August 1923.
The Raleigh weather log for 22 August 1923.  There was a significant temperature drop and substantial amount of rainfall in the afternoon.
Raleigh weather log for 23 August 1923.
Log for 23 August 1923.  The low of 56 degrees Fahrenheit was the lowest temperature recorded during that month.  The high of 61 was the lowest maximum temperature ever recorded for Raleigh on that day of August.

This data comes from a collection of old Weather Bureau logs for the Raleigh area, that the Special Collections Research Center holds.  The collection contains several volumes, and most contain a year’s worth of data each.  In total, these logs cover the years 1887 - 1972.  They record barometric pressure, temperature, relative humidity, wind, clouds, precipitation, dew point, frosts, and general weather observations, usually on a monthly basis, but many volumes also have daily information and annual summaries.  In 1923, the recording station was at the corner of Raleigh's Fayetteville and Hargett streets, in the Masonic Temple, still at that site today.  Currently, the National Weather Service Raleigh Office and the North Carolina State Climate Office are located on NC State University’s Centennial Campus.

Historic image showing the Masonic Temple, Raleigh
In 1923, the U.S. Weather Bureau's Raleigh office was located in the Masonic Temple. Image from Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill

The weather data recorded in these logs was reported to the U.S. Weather Bureau in Washington, D.C. (today’s National Weather Service and NOAA, found online at, and this information, along with that from all across the United States, is publicly available and can be found today at many weather websites.  Although our historic information isn’t unique, we thought it would be fun to feature the original record books in which the weather was documented. Stay tuned for future PastCasts!

Raleigh weather summary for August 1923
Summary temperature and precipitation data for Raleigh, NC, August 1923.

If you have any questions or are interested in viewing Special Collections materials, please contact us at or submit a request online.  To see the item described above, please request Volume 34 of the United States Weather Bureau, Raleigh Office, Records (call number MC 00288).  The Special Collections Research Center is open by appointment only. Appointments are available Monday–Friday, 9am–6pm and Saturday, 1pm–5pm. Requests for a Saturday appointment must be received no later than Tuesday of the same week.