In traveling around California and Nevada to look at NOAA USHCN climate
monitoring weather stations I’ve seen some odd things. I’ve seen temperature
sensors near asphalt and concrete, sensors placed within feet of buildings and
cars, sensors placed near air conditioner exhausts, and sensors that had
barbeque grills in the vicinity.
Last Friday June 6th, I traveled to Santa Rosa, CA to the Press Democrat
Newspaper, a wholly owned subsidiary of the New York Times, which according to
NOAA, has the climate station of record for Santa Rosa.
I figured it would be a fairly straightforward survey, and that I’d probably
find the temperature sensor near the back of the building by the parking lot, as
I’ve found many others placed. I figured it would look a lot like our local
newspaper, the Chico Enterprise Record (owned by Media News Group), weather station. It is in the rear, in a bit of
disrepair, missing some slats and part of its roof assembly, but otherwise ok.
It is seen below:
But nothing prepared me for what I was about to find at the Santa Rosa Press
When I arrived, I couldn’t locate the NOAA MMTS sensor anywhere around the building, but I
did see a tower on the roof of the building, and in the rear of the building
they had a Davis Vantage Pro2 weather station on a pole. I knew that wasn’t
the official climate temperature sensor provided by NOAA. So, after doing a
perimeter search twice, I went inside to inquire within. Everything in the lobby said
"go away". I guess it was the bullet proof glass, and the cameras, and the
security guard. After getting a name of the person resonsible for their weather
page from the front desk, I called on my cell
phone, no answer.
Undeterred, I decided to try looking outside again. It was then I noticed the
5 level parking garage about a block north.
From the top of the parking garage a quick scan with my binoculars located the NOAA MMTS
temperature sensor. It was there, about 8-10 feet above the roof, surrounded by
a sea of air conditioners and exhaust vents!
Here is what I saw from my binoculars:
And here is a panorama of the entire rooftop of the Press Democrat. Click on
the image to get a full sized view with panning functions:
A complete photo essay is available on my surfacestations.org website.
An independent check of aerial photos that I had access to confirmed the
placement of the sensor in the middle of several air conditioning units.
I’ve seen some poorly thought out places to measure temperature, but
this one takes the cake. Not only do we have the sensor above a sea of air
conditioners with warm air exhausts, there are two rooftop building exhausts,
plus the roof and building itself, and then lets not forget that the Press
Democrat itself is in a sea of buildings in downtown Santa Rosa, all of which to
contribute to the Urban Heat Island (UHI) the thermometer is exposed to.
Yes folks, this is an official USHCN Climate station of record. The data from
this station goes into the national climatic database. But given the absurd and
irresponsible placement of this NOAA MMTS thermometer, is it any wonder at all
that the graph of temperature at Santa Rosa looks like it does?
This isn’t a case of gradual encroachment by localized site changes that happened around the thermometer, like what happened in Marysville. This is a deliberate placement of an official thermometer in the worst possible measurement scenario. Somebody had to choose this location, the building and air conditioners did not grow up around it.