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.
Weather is what you make of it
By Barry Schrader.................................December
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 Bureaus 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
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.
Lets 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
Doms 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 valleyat
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 thats
Now for some dinner table conversation ideaswhat 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 couldnt be happier!
More specificsthe 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.
Well take a break from history mysteries awhile so I can catch
up on my research.
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 446
Livermore, CA. 94551