DENVER — Denver's official climate record has been kept at Denver International Airport (DIA) for 26 years.
And it's been a common complaint that DIA doesn't accurately portray the weather conditions for most Denverites. The core part of the city's population lies at least 10 miles southwest of the airport. Downtown is closer to 20 miles away.
Well now, an upgrade to the weather station in Denver's Central Park will provide real-time weather data a little closer to the population center. The measurements from that location were previously not available until the next day, which made daily weather comparisons difficult.
The new weather station will likely become the go-to sensor for meteorologists to describe the daily weather conditions in Denver, however, it will not replace DIA as the official climate station.
The two stations are really the perfect example of weather vs climate. The daily weather conditions can be drastically different in the city compared to the airport, but climate-wise, the two stations are remarkably similar.
In fact, the average temperature is exactly the same at both locations. Central Park averaged slightly more precipitation – a little more than an inch, and the difference in snow over that span, was only two-tenths of an inch.
The new Central Park weather station
Very few relics of Denver's old Stapleton airport remain. Repurposed as a brewpub, the old control tower still stands, and so too does the long weather record that started there back in 1948.
That weather record was Denver's official climate record from 1948 to 1995 when the record was moved to DIA.
Even though the climate record was moved to DIA, the actual weather station remained in Central Park and that individual record has been maintained there, even after the airport was torn down. But the data was not available in real-time.
Now, the National Weather Service is installing a new station that will send out weather measurements from Central Park at least every 10 minutes. If technicians can get the connection set up right, the data will be available minute-by-minute.
It will send out temperature measurements, dew point, humidity, wind speed, wind direction, barometric pressure and precipitation.
The new station is getting installed on a City of Denver property called the Urban Farm, a community farm and educational center that provides a unique opportunity for urban youth to learn hands-on about agriculture without ever leaving the city.
The station is located in the middle of one of the farms agricultural lots and could be up and running by the end of October. The data will be available digitally to anyone.
The snow problem
The only weather that the new Central Park station will not be able to measure is snow. While automated snow sensors are becoming much more reliable with recent technologies, that weather data must still be manually measured by people to count officially.
That goes for all NWS official measurements.
The NWS said it's possible that snow will no longer get measured in Central Park, which sadly will break a very consistent record that dates back to 1948 at that location.
From 1948 to 1999, snow was measured at Stapleton airport by either NWS employees or airport employees four times per day. From 2000 to 2022, snow was measured there by contractors once per day. The same individuals hired by NWS to launch their weather balloons.
Well, now the problem is that the NWS is planning to get an auto-launcher system for their weather balloons, which means the contractors would no longer be needed, and there would be no one there now to measure snow.
The NWS said they are actively trying to find someone in that area willing to measure snowfall on a daily basis so that long snowfall record will not be broken.
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