I friend of mine reported heavy, torrential downpours in Flagstaff on Friday. This is typically good news. When I looked for the rainfall total at the Flagstaff Airport, the weather station had reported no rain for the day. When I looked at a couple of downtown weather stations, KAZFLAGS42 and KAZFLAGS82, on Wunderground.com, I found 0.57 and 0.32 inches reported. Location matters.
The Flagstaff area is subject to large variances in precipitation depending on location. Prevalent winds, changes in terrain and typography can all change the locally measured rainfall amounts. KAZFLAGS42 and KAZFLAGS82 reported 3.16 and 2.61 inches of rain for the month of August. Looking at Rainlog.org, the monthly self-reported totals are below, the variation is clear.
If you have lived in the area, you have experienced. In 1950, the the Weather Service movedFlagstaff weather station moved from downtown Flagstaff, to the current location at the airport. It still baffles me when the National Weather Service references historic data from before 1950. Here is their monthly summary for August 2016:
Notice the period the reference. It was cool and wet in August, but when you take measures from two different environments, equipment and measurement techniques, care is required making comparisons and claims. At a minimum, it should be made clear every time it is done. A more careful review for Flagstaff would include 1950 until present.
When considering 1950 to present, August 2016 was the second wettest, and tied as fourth coldest. Interestingly, since 2010, 6 of the 7 years have had rainfall above the 1950-present average. And, 3 of the last 4 years have been more than one standard deviation above the 1950-present average. Two of the last 4 years have been more than one standard deviation below the 1950-present average temperature.