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Barry Schrader
Columnist

 

I currently have columns running in 3 newspapers;

  • Tri-Valley Herald : Looking Back
  • Valley Times : Do You Remember?
  • The Independent : Do You Remember?

The Articles appear in the Herald and Independent on Thursdays,
and the Times on Sundays.

They will also be found on this page each week as well.

 

If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

Archive Page

Weather is what you make of it

By Barry Schrader.................................December 15, 2005

Who would want to live in an area where highs hit 115 degrees and only 4.82 inches of rain fell in one season?

Well, if you have been in the Livermore Valley since 1950, chances are you survived both that heat wave and dry spell. It was September 1950 when the thermometer registered 115 degrees here and then the driest year on record was 1975-76 when the precipitation measured only 4.82 inches from July 1 through June 30.

How do we know what has transpired weatherwise since 1870 in the Livermore Valley? It is all thanks to the daily records kept by local observers for the US Weather Bureau. In all those 135 years there have been only about seven locations where people have kept official track of the highs, lows and precipitation. The latest and one of the longest-serving is Ron Hafner, who has been the US Weather Bureau’s Livermore person since 1981. That means 365 days a year he has to go out into his backyard at 6 p.m. and record the data, except when he goes on vacation and finds a substitute. His figures are used by television and radio stations, newspapers and by farmers, grape growers and others dependent on rainfall and temperatures in their occupation or business.

Hafner, whose fulltime job is chemist at LLNL, is not a weather forecaster or meteorologist, but by perusing records he holds back to 1870 one can certainly find a trend in weather patterns for the area.

Now the wettest year on record locally was 1982-83 when we got 31.95 inches that season, or 219 percent of normal. For the record, normal rainfall for the Livermore end of the Tri-Valley is 14.54 inches.

Let’s take a look at all the locations and observers on record for Livermore since 1870. The first weather station was at the Southern Pacific Depot up until 1902, where the depot staff kept the records. Then in 1902 Livermore Echo newspaper editor Elmer Still took over the task from his West First Street office. Still became city clerk and moved the station to city hall where it stayed until 1932. Then a C.S. Downing volunteered and moved it to the Independent Warehouse Company on West First Street (where Dom’s is now) and then at South Q and First. Others keeping records there were R.S. Tutts and A. H. Elder. In 1959 Miriam Quarterman became the observer and did so at her family ranch on Evans Avenue. By 1967 it was turned over to the County Fire Station on College Avenue where it stayed until 1979. Then for a short period Hal Vyverberg kept the official records from 1979 to 1981 at his home on South M Street. From then until now it has been Hafner on Wellingham Drive.

It should be noted there are other weather stations in the valley—at Lawrence Livermore Lab, the Livermore Airport, the Zone 7 water district offices, and even up north at Las Positas College. But there can only be one official reporting station for a city the size of Livermore and that’s on Wellingham.

Now for some dinner table conversation ideas—what year did it last snow in the valley and the white stuff stayed on the ground? And how far below normal in rainfall are we this year? The second answer, as of December 13, is we are only at 30 percent of normal, so a lot of rain must fall in the coming few months to get us back to normal.

If your friends from out of town start teasing you about the heat in this valley, just remind them the year-round average (mean) temperature for all days and nights is 61.1 degrees here, so we couldn’t be happier! More specifics—the mean temp for January is 47.5 and for July it is 72.9. Actually, weather is kind of boring for us--except for a dozen hot days in summer, a couple foggy days in winter and once in a while frost on the windshields.

***

We’ll take a break from history mysteries awhile so I can catch up on my research.

 

The columnist can be reached via email at :

Historian2sbcglobal.net

or by snailmail at:

Barry Schrader
PO Box 446
Livermore, CA. 94551

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