The Tucson rainfall record that wasn’t…

If a daily rainfall record occurs and the official climate site malfunctions, does it count? Enter the dilemma Tucson meteorologists faced during Monday’s gullywasher thanks to Tropical Depression 16.

Officially, Tucson International Airport recorded 1.04″ rain Monday. This came just shy of eclipsing the September 21st rainfall record of 1.10″ set in 1978. However…


NOAA has strict guidelines for its official climate sites. I think it’s time to revisit the reporting procedure during potential record weather events like this. My three suggestions are…


1) Loosen the reigns and “fill in the gaps” from other rain gauges. Above is the RainLog map for Monday’s rain totals. This and the Pima County rain gauges were consistent in showing 1.00-1.35″ rain, as mentioned in the Public Information Statement. I understand there are specific guidelines for rain gauge siting, which are stated here. The Pima County rain gauges are pretty darn close to official. Why not use them as a backup?

2) Require the FAA to collect rainfall data when automation fails. This might be the easiest solution. If they’re already required to send back hourly temperature/dew point/pressure/wind readings from the tower, having them pass along rain gauge data should be added as a necessity.

3) Report the daily rainfall as “missing”. This is probably the solution NWS would most likely adopt. Passing along a daily rainfall amount with 10 hours of data missing is not representative for an entire event. When there is a malfunction with the temperature data at key times, NWS passes it along as missing on their daily climate report. The same procedure should be in place for incomplete rainfall measurements.

Have other suggestions? Pass them along in the comments section below. Also, if anyone at NWS Tucson would like to chime in, please feel free to do so.


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