in reply to Selecting a particular record from groups of records
Is your data sorted for date/time, i.e. are all records with the same date/time together? You implied it but I want to make sure I understand you correctly.
In that case you can just write a loop, reading each record and checking for two things: If the date/time is the same as the previous record then if the QC flags are lower than the QC flags of a temporary record, replace the temporary record with this record. If the date/time is new, then print the temporary record (which holds the lowest record of the previous date/time) and replace the temporary record with this record. That's all
If your data is not sorted for date/time, then you need to store the smallest record for each date/time in a hash and output those records after you read the whole file. A problem might be that you need to have as many records as you have different date/times in memory, but it doesn't sound as if that is a problem for your case
PS: A flag is a data item that is either on or off. So technically there is no smallest value for flags. You can easily confuse programmers with misnomers like this