Jul 292013
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I think we could go ahead and consider the 7.57 inches of precipitation we have received in the month of July an all time record for the month. I know it’s short of the 7.58 inches “Flagstaff” recorded in 1919. The National Weather Service office in Flagstaff has updated the monthly total with great graphics daily. Here is this morning’s update.

5 Wettest July in Flagstaff

5 Wettest July in Flagstaff

While we are 1/100th of an inch shy of the record, I’m not sure 1919 is a meaningful record to break. I have mentioned in the past that the weather record for Flagstaff isn’t as clean-cut as you might hope. The Flagstaff weather station has gotten around town. Personally, I think 1950 is the year that forms the basis of a real weather record for a single location. The text below is from a Climate of Flagstaff record provided by the National Weather Service.

The first official weather station in Flagstaff was established September 9, 1898. The 
office was located at the southeast corner of Aspen Avenue and Park Street in a one-
story five-room brick building known as the Milligan Cottage. The first observer was
Miss Elizabeth Renoe, who later married a young attorney who became the first United 
States Senator from Arizona, Senator Henry Ashurst. 
On March 15, 1912, the station was moved to Sitgreaves and Ellery Streets, which was 
one-half mile southeast of the previous location. The station remained at this location 
until October 29, 1919. The station was then moved to 602 North Leroux Street. 
On June 1, 1943, the weather station was moved to the Federal Post Office Building in 
downtown Flagstaff. A first-order weather station was then established. 
On January 12, 1950, the weather station was moved to the Flagstaff Municipal Airport,
six miles south of Flagstaff. The station and the weather office remained at the airport 
until June 1994 when the National Weather Service office moved to the Camp Navajo 
Army Depot in Bellemont, 10 miles west of Flagstaff. From July 1994 to July 1995, 
the National Weather Service office was temporarily located in the army barracks, 
while a new office was constructed. On July 21, 1995, the office officially moved to 
its current location on the Camp Navajo Army Depot. An automated weather station 
(ASOS) remains at the Flagstaff Municipal Airport recording the official observations
for Flagstaff. The ASOS was commissioned July 1, 1994. 

In the summer of 1919, The station was at the corner of Sitgreaves and Ellery. By connecting the current day Ellery and Sitgreaves, it appears their intersection would have been around the Prochnow Auditorium on the NAU campus. This would put it about three and a half miles from where it is at the airport now. The station has moved to Leroux street, then the Federal building, before going to the airport in 1950. We know that a few miles in monsoon seasons can make a large difference in precipitation received.

Month to date rainfall totals at rainlog.org

Month to date rainfall totals at rainlog.org

The image above is of monthly rainfall totals reported by people to rainlog.org. A quick look shows that the monthly rainfall totals are variable by location. My site is about a mile from the down town locations and about 4.5 miles from the airport. I’m pretty confident that I haven’t missed a day. Also, I use both an electronic and a manual rain gauges. I have a had about 1 inch less rain than the airport. Most years, I seem to get more rain than the airport. How storms build and travel can cause wide swings in actual rainfall amounts. Because the station has moved around, and the location variability of precipitation amounts in the monsoon season. I don’t think the 1919 record is meaningful. I think we have set a new record which only dates back to 1950 and that is the meaningful record we have.

The problem I foresee is that we are drying out for the next few days. Even the small amount of rainfall needed to break the “record” may not fall. We will see.


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